Monday, January 18, 2010

Conserving Hunters

Hunters are in decline. Most of the countries inhabitants live in cities. Who will speak for conservation?

This is a great article from National Geographic.

The great irony is that many species might not survive at all were it not for hunters trying to kill them. All the wings provided to Norman Saake and his colleagues throughout the country come from hunters, who fold them into prepaid envelopes, record the date and place of harvest, and mail them in. It is but one example of how the nation’s 12.5 million hunters have become essential partners in wildlife management. They have paid more than 700 million dollars for duck stamps, which have added 5.2 million acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System since 1934, when the first stamps were issued. They pay millions of dollars for licenses, tags, and permits each year, which helps finance state game agencies. They contribute more than 250 million dollars annually in excise taxes on guns, ammunition, and other equipment, which largely pays for new public game lands. Hunters in the private sector also play a growing role in conserving wildlife.

Many anti hunters try to downplay the importance of hunting to the conservation effort. But it the facts are there and they cannot be denied.

Hunters of more modest means contribute to conservation in other ways, giving 280 million dollars annually to organizations such as Pheasants Forever, the Ruffed Grouse Society, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, and other nonprofit groups, which sponsor scientific research for particular species and maintain important habitat. Since its formation in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 11 million acres (4.5 million hectares) of wetlands and associated uplands. Hunters also focus public attention on conservation issues in state legislatures, in Congress, and in the marketplace. When you buy a camouflage camisole ($24.99) from the Ducks Unlimited catalog, a portion of the proceeds goes to conservation projects. If you visit Bozeman, Montana, and buy a pair of Schnee’s Pac boots, you will find a tag dangling from the laces, along with a promise that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will receive some of your money for elk conservation projects.

It is an article with everything; ducks, dogs, bears, elk, wolves, and birds - The beauty of the land and the need for hunters to be ethical. How it is as we get older, and how our hunting changes. Take a bit and read it through - it is long, so put some time aside - but it is poignant.

Watching clouds of ducks circling overhead, he suddenly cracked a smile. The birds had banked sharply, changed direction, and come our way again, splashing down practically at our feet. “They can’t stay away,” he said. “They know they’re safe here, just like those teal you see over there.” He pointed to a knot of the fast-flying, chunky little birds. “Look. See them?”

O’Connor stood on his tiptoes and watched the teal disappear over the trees and off toward the north, where they would be breeding soon.

He doesn’t hunt many teal these days.

Why not?

“I got so I like having them around too much.”

So often, hunting is about love of the land and your quarry. Who could make a better conservationist?

Read the rest of the article here.


PBurns said...

Awesome! Gonna hat tip you later in the day on this --- cited it in an ongoing ping-pong about advocacy technique with Ted Williams. :)


Live to Hunt.... said...

Great review and photo essay. Nicely done!

Doug said...

Thanks guys. It was a good read.