WINONA (AP) -- Minnesota anglers like their fishing enough to wake up before dawn in the summer and sit on thin ice in the winter, so they probably won't take kindly to the latest campaign by an animal-rights group.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants Minnesota to ban fishing in state parks. "Impaling him on a hook and ripping him out of his environment is cruelty to animals, plain and simple," said Dan Shannon, who is leading PETA's "Fishing Hurts" campaign.
The group launched its campaign by sending a letter to Bill Morrisey, Department of Natural Resources director of parks and recreation.
"The violent process of fishing and its consequences do not complement the peace and tranquility of a state park," Shannon said in the letter.
Speaking last week from PETA's Norfolk, Va., headquarters, he said this is the animal rights group's first anti-fishing campaign. It also began lobbying in Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Michigan.
"Fishing is just hunting in the water," Shannon said, adding that Minnesota already bans hunting in state parks. "The scientific evidence clearly states that fish can feel pain."
In a return letter sent to Shannon last week, Brad Moore, the DNR's assistant commissioner for operations, said he does not believe anglers or their activities are damaging to state parks.
"We have no intention of banning fishing in state parks," Moore wrote.
Shannon said that because fish don't make a noise or a facial expression upon being hooked, they receive less sympathy from the public than do mammals and birds, he said.
Rich Enochs, president of the WinCres Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Winona, said: "It's an interesting position, but I can't see the point.
"A total ban seems to be contrary to any sort of reasonable balance on outdoors philosophy," he said.
Shannon said PETA's campaign hopes to foster a public debate and doesn't expect people "to agree with us overnight."
Garry Barvels, manager of Whitewater State Park, said he didn't understand why PETA would send the letter.
The park, like many in southeastern Minnesota, offers fishing for stream trout. The winter fishing season is open for catch-and-release using only hooks without barbs.
"They're not really hurting the fish that way," Barvels said. Of the PETA campaign, he said, "I don't know how to even answer those people."
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