Hunters may be the best, non-conventional conservationists.
Hunters are different conservationists. We are little selfish in the fact that we eat what we guard and protect. The groups that throw money at saving certain species halfway around the world have their merit, but hunters get in there and get their hands dirty with conservation.
Hunters do a lot for the sport they love. Hunters play many different roles including teacher, land steward and all-around conservationist. A hunter learns to do different things in order to support and improve the way of life they enjoy. Here we will go over 10 ways that hunters act as conservationists.
1. Dollar Bills
Hunters contribute a lot of money to our sport. The monies that are spent on hunting-related gear have certain amounts set aside for conservation efforts. Excise taxes on guns, archery equipment and ammunition have been put back into conservation, as well as contributing to the economy as a whole.
Licenses and duck stamps provide funding for conserving our hunting future and protecting hunting lands. The land set aside for waterfowl, endangered species and wildlife is an example of basic conservation.
The various groups and associations hunters join work to promote better hunting opportunities and improve habitat for all animals. These lands are not exclusively used by hunters. Hikers, fishermen, cyclists, birdwatchers and campers take advantage of these resources.
4. Individual habitat improvements
Hunters work as land stewards to improve existing habitats for wildlife and hunting opportunities. If you decided you wanted to take up baseball as a hobby, would you seek out property to build a baseball field? Most wouldn’t go to that extreme but hunters do just that when they improve food sources and tailor private property for animals. If you build it, the critters will come.
When we go into the woods and harvest an animal, we are conserving a resource. Legal hunting is the most effective way to properly manage game populations. State and federal wildlife agencies monitor reproduction rates and compare those with the carrying capacity of lands for hunting to determine how many animals need to be taken out to keep a healthy number overall.
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Hunters pass on the tradition of conservation to future hunters. The animals we hunt were not always plentiful; conservation efforts improved the habitat and the numbers of animals we see today. Hunters convey the importance of conservation to those that will look to enjoy hunting after we are gone.
Those who are not familiar with hunting see it from the outside as some outlet for superiority or simply killing for sport. Hunters are knowledgeable about the game they pursue. Hunters, along with biologists, help combat disease and stress on game populations. Hunters put in considerably more than they take away from hunting.
The best example of this is the efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). We have all seen articles and footage of turkeys being relocated; this is transplanting the beginnings of a turkey population. Volunteers, usually hunters alongside biologists, help to spread this species to allow growth.
9. Political Activism
Hunters know how to read and write. If you question this, just speak to any politician, they can attest to hunters’ quest for recognition in the political realm. Hunters call elected officials, write letters and comment via social media when issues concerning conservation are called into question. Hunters practice conversation in all aspects of their sport.
Hunters respect the great outdoors. We spend time outdoors not to only harvest an animal, but to enjoy the land. Conservation by those sitting in duck blinds, perched in treestands, and wandering fields and fencerows have preserved lands that all can enjoy, not just hunters.
So the next time you hear someone say that hunters are inconsiderate or don’t care about animals or nature, then give them a few of these facts. It is time for the stigma around hunters to be erased and hunters should be recognized as the conservationists they are.