Conservation is about perpetuating the use of the resources we’re conserving, so that they’re available for us and our descendants to use long into the future.
It’s no secret that hunters are the driving force behind wildlife conservation. It’s both a simple and a complicated message: yes, ‘hunting is conservation’ is an easy and true slogan. It speaks to a lot of us who consider ourselves hunter conservationists.
But there’s a lot more to it than that easily remembered tagline.
Dr. Lee Foote says it like this: “We conserve wildlife, with some level of protection, in order to access it later on. To use it later on.”
It’s the “using it later on” part that becomes the driving force behind conservation and informs the way we conserve wildlife in a sustainable manner.
“As wildlife managers, we work at a population level,” says another wildlife biologist (whose name is not given in this short video), “trying to conserve populations into the future, versus an individual animal.”
This concept is at odds with the philosophy of most anti-hunters, who view the loss of a single animal as catastrophic, even if the loss of that lone animal would secure the larger species population.
To that end, conserving and improving habitat is a vital part of the larger puzzle of sustainable wildlife conservation.
“…if you don’t control some of these populations, that they will degrade their habitat enough, that it will be a long-term degradation that will take decades to recover, if it ever does,” says big game biologist Craig Jourdonnaise. “You want to take care of the habitat. You know that’s the driver of all things good and healthy beyond that.”
“If I truly am a hunter,” says Randy Newberg, “and I’m dependent upon robust landscapes for my food, and my life, I better do something to put more back into that landscape.”
As if we need to reinforce this, it is worth noting that robust habitats with thriving game animals and other wildlife is a quality of life issue for humans as well.
“I think humans innately have a need for that connection with the outside. We have not been civilized for all that long, the blink of an eye. That’s why people have plants in their house. That’s why people have pets. It fills a part of our soul that we can’t live without.”
The conservation effort—$220,000,000 from federal taxes associated with hunting, followed by another $760,000,000 coming from taxes collected on guns and ammunition via the Pittman-Robertson Act—benefits everyone, hunter and non-hunter alike. This money goes to support wildlife management programs and purchasing lands for habitat conservation.
You might say that hunter dollars—$1.1-billion worth—is collected from hunters directly by the federal government to fund the science of wildlife conservation.
In addition to that funding, countless hunter organizations work to contribute time, effort and money—well over a billion dollars from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation alone—to the cause of conservation and preserving our wildlife for the long-term sustainable use of the resource.
Don’t let anyone tell you that hunting is not conservation.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.