Sportsmen: Beware of Anti-Hunters and Anti-Gunners Astroturfing

Sportsmen: Beware of Anti-Hunters and Anti-Gunners “Astroturfing” Your Rights

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U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

Columbus, OH –-( Anti-hunters have begun using a new tactic to advance their agenda: “astroturfing.” This term is used to describe incidents where an internet user claims to be someone or something they are not for the purpose of posting comments onto online forums, news stories, and blogs. The anti’s often will do this on pro-sportsmen forums and news sites, acting as hunters, trying to create divisions within the community.

A recent example appears to have taken place in North Dakota as a commenter to a Bismarck Tribune story was found to be using a computer registered to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the largest anti hunting group in the U.S.

The news story dealt with a petition in North Dakota to ban preserve hunting in the state. In the comments section, a person named “Will” appeared to pose as a hunter and stated, ” Any real hunter wouldn’t have an issue with this – hunting is supposed to be a sport, what sport or skill is it, to kill an animal that is raised for you to kill? Growing up I remember the thrill of the chase. The chase mind you, that doesn’t involve fences. Anyone who thinks this will snowball is an idiot – it’s practices like this that give hunters a bad name.”

Another commenter noted that they had seen the exact same post by “Will” over at a pro- sportsman blog where he had been exposed by the blog’s administrator after discovering that the IP address used by “Will” was registered to HSUS.

These efforts are becoming more frequent as increasing numbers of people communicate online. Sportsmen should be aware that the anti’s are taking advantage of this to attack certain forms of hunting and divide the community. This is particularly detrimental as some media and others look to forums to gauge a particular group’s thoughts on a subject. This in turn will make it more difficult for sportsmen to stand together as the anti’s move forward with its larger agenda to ban all hunting.

Define: Astroturfing is a word in English describing formal political, advertising, or public relations campaigns seeking to create the impression of being spontaneous “grassroots” behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass, AstroTurf.

The goal of such a campaign is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (“outreach”, “awareness”, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual pushing a personal agenda or highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website,