Turns out that legally killing “exotic” animals in Africa — exotic only from an America-centric perspective, of course — can disqualify a person from serving on Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission.
You might not even get a chance to lay out your credentials for the Oregon Senate Rules Committee.
Oregon’s seven-member Fish and Wildlife Commission, you will not be surprised to learn, has no authority over managing wildlife in Africa. Indeed the Commission’s responsibility doesn’t extend beyond Oregon’s borders.
But none of this seems to have mattered in the case of James Nash, a 32-year-old former Marine tank commander from Enterprise who was twice wounded in Afghanistan.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown nominated Nash to serve on the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Nash, who is a cattle rancher, has worked to restore salmon and steelhead habitat in the Wallowa River, and to maintain his rangeland in a healthy condition.
But he also once killed a hippopotamus.
And a crocodile.
When photos from Nash’s Instagram account were publicized recently, showing him posing with those two animals during a trip to Africa several years ago that was a reward for his military service, the outrage, predictably in what seems to be an era defined by emotion rather than sober consideration, was immediate.
Environmental groups, incensed not only by Nash’s hunting exploits but also by his connections to the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, a group that advocates for killing wolves that attack livestock in the state, lambasted Brown for nominating Nash.
When the Senate Rules Committee on Monday posted its agenda for confirming nominees for the Fish and Wildlife Commission today, Nash’s name was absent.
The message here is that if you legally hunt and kill animals, even halfway around the globe, you had better not take any photos.
Because your actual beliefs about managing wildlife, however reasonable and thoughtful they might be, won’t matter. It’s so much simpler, and satisfying, to judge a person based on a few photos rather than actually listen to him. With a photo you simply react. No thinking required.
It’s one thing that the public takes this superficial approach on social media.
But the Senate Rules Committee should have shown at least a modicum of respect for Brown’s nomination of Nash, and afforded him a chance to defend his credentials.
The senators might have learned something about Nash’s positions on fish and wildlife management that convinced them he would be a good addition to the Commission.
They also might have learned what Bill Monroe, outdoors writer for The Oregonian, did when he talked to Nash for a column — that the hippo Nash shot surprised his group when they were hunting for a different species, and that villagers asked him to kill the crocodile because it had killed people.
Sadly they seemed content to rely on photos, which in these case aren’t worth 10 words, much less a thousand.
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor