Letters To The Editor


December 06, 2004

Mute swans not the threat the bay faces

Columnist Gerald Winegrad apparently likes some birds and dislikes others ("Protecting swans harms native wildlife," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 30).

The International Migratory Bird Treaty Act, however, was not designed to be arbitrary or based on aesthetics; it was designed to protect all migratory birds across the range of their migratory routes.

There is no distinction between "native" and "non-native" anywhere in the four migratory bird treaties signed by the United States and other nations, all of which were intended to protect birds that move between countries, not just native birds.

Mr. Winegrad claims that Maryland's mute swan population has grown exponentially. But data from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources shows the mute swan population declined from approximately 4,000 in 1999 to about 3,600 in 2002.

And a federal court ruled last year that there was no evidence this shrinking population of birds was causing any damage to the environment.

True conservationists rely on sound science, not hyperbole.

Mr. Winegrad, Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest and their ilk should stop their crusade to kill birds that don't meet their smell test, and turn their attention to the big poultry farms on the Eastern Shore, the sewage treatment systems that desperately need to be upgraded, and the other real threats to the bay's wildlife staring them right in the face.

Michael Markarian


The writer is president of the Fund for Animals.

Hunting an animal is always violent

In response to Steve Chapman's column "Believe it or not, violent hunters are the exception, not the rule" (Opinion Commentary, Nov. 30), I would note that the act of hunting in itself is violent.

The firing of any type of weapon that results in the death or injury of an innocent animal is violent.

To say that violent hunters are an exception is an oxymoron.

Enid Feinberg


New roads can't cure the area's congestion

Alternatives to the Intercounty Connector are manifold, abundant and, most important, well-founded and responsible ("Opposition to ICC appears misplaced," letters, Nov. 29). The environmental community, anti-sprawl advocates and those promoting viable mass transportation recognize that another highway will offer nothing but temporary relief of traffic congestion.

Once congestion is reduced by a new road, that roadway becomes more attractive to motorists until saturation is again reached. Then we will have another clogged and congested roadway in Maryland, and people screaming once more for more roads.

Improved mass transportation and the expansion of these systems is the viable and responsible answer to our travel woes.

Building more roads is not.

Chris Fick


The writer is a field organizer for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

An execution can't be corrected

Michael Millemann's column "Righting a wrong" (Opinion Commentary, Dec. 2) points out clearly and undeniably why the death penalty should be abolished once and for all.

By acting on the Parole Commission's recommendation of clemency for Walter Arvinger, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. tacitly acknowledged that even the best judges are fallible and, by extension, that the possibility of rectifying error is a crucial safeguard in our justice system.

Even 36 years later, a wrong can be righted - but only if the accused is still alive.

Kim Johnson


Gun control leaves students vulnerable

If a student is upset enough to commit a violent crime at school, then there is nothing to stop him or her from getting a firearm and returning to a gun-free school zone ("State tells Utah campus it can't ban concealed guns," Nov. 26). Of course, this is just what has happened in the school shootings in this nation.

The results of gun control disarming honest, law-abiding citizens are the people who are killed or wounded by the criminals who refuse to obey gun control laws, or any laws for that matter.

Lawfully armed citizens are a threat to no one but those who would violate their rights.

James Mullen

White Hall

Using rights to block the training we need

I read with considerable interest The Sun's article that explains the problem that confronts those who have been assigned the task of expanding our intelligence capabilities by increasing its human resources ("CIA's hiring dilemma: Few meet requirements," Nov. 30).

At a time when America is under attack by a global phantom army of terrorists who claim no country and wear no uniform, it is very important that our colleges and universities prepare those interested to meet the necessarily high standards to become intelligence analysts and operatives.

While pondering this problem, I encountered another article in the same issue of The Sun: "Ban of military recruiters on campus OK, court says" (Nov. 30). This article makes it evident why the problems mentioned in the other article may be very difficult, if not impossible, to surmount.

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