Duck hunter's lobby is criticized

August 25, 1993|By Cox News Service

WASHINGTON -- If it walks like a political action committee and quacks like a political action committee it may be "Duc Pac," the private campaign contribution fund of a prominent Washington lobbyist and duck hunter.

Virtually all of the fund's few thousand dollars appears to come from the family of lobbyist J.D. Williams.

Most of Duc Pac's political contributions go to members of Congress who have helped block Interior Department interference in the operations of private duck "shooting preserves" -- such as one owned by Mr. Williams.

The preserves -- many on Maryland's Eastern Shore -- are used to rear and release tame mallard ducks, which are taught to fly to areas where they usually find feed. In hunting season, the mallards find hunters instead of corn.

Most of the shooting preserves are operated for profit, with hunters paying fees for the right to shoot unlimited numbers of the pen-reared birds. The business is growing rapidly in several Maryland counties that border the Chesapeake Bay.

But Mr. Williams and Tommy Boggs, two of Washington's premier lobbyists and political fund-raisers, also have private hunting preserves in Maryland's Eastern Shore. Guests reportedly have included political figures, business executives and diplomats.

Wildlife biologists at the University of Georgia warned several years ago that the game farm ducks may be spreading deadly diseases among wild mallards, which are declining in number.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally announced this summer that it was considering regulations to prevent contact between farm ducks and wild birds.

Many farms have begun allowing their ducks to roam, which brings them into contact with wild birds.

Last month, 83 members of the House wrote the service, warning that any regulation of the preserves would be "unacceptable" until a study -- being funded in part by the preserve owners -- is complete.

All the House members belonges to the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus.

"I think this whole business stinks of political interference from people who have received contributions and hospitality from shooting preserve operations," said Wayne Pacelle, national director of the Fund for Animals, an animal rights organization.

"These are a bunch of politicians who are voiding the intent of professional agency personnel," he added.

lTC

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