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Friday, 19 July 2019 13:55

LETTER: Tracking collars help, but nothing is perfect

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Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing my comments on the recent dog hunting situation where many of our friends and neighbors were charged with various violations after a multi-year long undercover sting operation by N.C. game wardens. I was pleasantly surprised at the conversations that ensued.

I would like to add a part two to those comments to address some comments my friends and neighbors in Richmond County either heard or stated concerning hunters' obligations to control the dogs and where they hunt via modern GPS technology.

Most non-hunters may not be aware that most dog hunters have tracking systems where the dogs wear collars that transmit a signal that can be tracked either by GPS satellites or radio transceivers. Long gone are the days of leaving your hunting jacket on the ground for the dogs to come back to after a long day of hunting.

Today, many hunters have both GPS and radio-transmitting collars, commonly known as “beep, beep collars.” These collars transmit and the radio receiver receives only a beep and the strength of that beep and the direction gives the hunter a general idea of where their dog is. This system is not as accurate as GPS and the “beep, beep” collars are more often a backup for when the GPS malfunctions or the batteries die.

The GPS is a miracle of modern technology. Not only does it give the hunter a “Google Earth” view of where the dogs are, it also stores the dogs path, and allows some communication between the hunter and the dog. It is very cool. The collars even have lights the hunter can turn on when the dog gets close to a road so drivers can see the dog and avoid a disaster.

Another cool feature is the collars have a small speaker that emits a tone. The hunter can use this tone to train the dog. When the dog hears the tone, he knows that if he keeps going in the same direction, he may receive a shock. Yes, these collars also have electrodes that can emit a harmless electrical shock to “get the dogs attention.” It may sound cruel but it’s the same technology as invisible fencing used in most neighborhoods. 

One of the amazing features of this system is the ability to use property lines and highways as an invisible fence. The hunter can purchase the software to download the property lines and designate a particular area as their “yard.” The hunter’s property is now surrounded by an invisible fence and when the dog approaches the “fence” he gets a tone and then a shock if he continues.

This sounds like the answer to prevent dogs from unknowingly crossing property lines and hunting land the hunter does not have permission to hunt. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and the above-mentioned battery issue comes into play. Not to say anything about the tremendous expense these systems put on hunters. You may think that this expense is just the price to pay for hunting with dogs, but I would ask you if you really support a system that only allows the hunters with a couple of grand in spending money to hunt and in essence make it impossible for poor hunters, hunters with families, or with disabilities to continue to hunt. Remember, the more expensive something is, either through simple cost or through government taxes/fees, the more people at lower incomes loose their right to participate. None of us wants to live in a society where only the financially successful enjoy all the rights. But I digress.

The battery problem is something we must consider. The GPS batteries do not last as long as the "beep, beep" collars and by the end of the day, it is very possible that a hunter no longer has the ability to track and control their dogs as they did earlier in the day. In those cases, the hunter only has the "beep, beep" collars and can only have an approximation of where the dog is. They have no control over where the dog goes or accurate information as to where the dog is. This may be new information for some but it is nothing new to the hunters.

Furthermore, these same techniques are used to hunt bear, coon and hogs. So, to single out deer hunters is unfair. The major difference here is Disney never made a movie at how a cute little bear's mama was killed by a hunter.

I write this to ask everyone to please be considerate and understand that hunters are trying very hard to hunt ethically and legally and we should recognize them for these efforts. I would also ask that if a hunter asks you for permission to enter your property to get their dog, give it to them. Hunting dogs are pets and many families consider their pets as family members. What would you do if your young child had wondered onto someone else’s property and the property owner refused you access to retrieve them? Please do not put a hunter, a pet owner, in that situation.


Chris Maples


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