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Wildlife Conservation and Hunting, what most people don't understand

bearmiller

6 min read

Jan 20

159

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It is very concerning to me what is going on with the wildlife conservation model in the United States.  It is a model that has been successful for over the past 140 years in bringing back several species of wildlife that were near extinction and brought those numbers of wildlife species well beyond what they were in the early 1900’s, despite the massive development of this country and the exponential increase in human population.  Here is a two-and-a-half-minute video that describes what that conservation model is about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3UK8CXgx5s&t=3s


The fact is that despite the development and growth of this country, wildlife conservationists, (primarily hunters, fishermen, and the development of wildlife conservation education programs), our science-based model of wildlife conservation has proven to be extremely successful.  The numbers of deer, elk, pronghorn, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, mountain lions, turkeys, ducks, geese, fish, and many other species, has increased dramatically since the late 1800’s when there were no thoughts of conservation or regulations.  Despite all this success, the tide is starting to turn against this conservation

model. The cold hard fact of what is going on is that we as sportsmen and sportswomen may face losing our hunting and fishing privileges, as well as all the conservation work that has been done over the last 140 years. 


I have a lot of information to share, but I want to emphasize the point that we as sports people must act if we want to preserve what we have come to know and love.  For some of us, hunting and fishing traditions have been passed down for many generations, and we need to preserve that.  I need to pass that down to my grandchildren, and them to their children.  If we don’t, the outdoors as we know it today will be lost.  Maybe it is inevitable, but I certainly hope it is not a lost cause.


What is happening that is most concerning to me is how wildlife conservation is being left up to the general public to vote on.  I will use wolves as an example.  Wolf reintroduction was proposed and approved by most people that have no idea what impact that would have on our environment, but there was always the stipulation that state wildlife agencies, meaning wildlife biologists that understand the overall situation of the impact of wolves, would take over the management of the wolf populations and control the populations through hunting.  But what happened in every state that wolves were reintroduced, anti-hunting organizations found ways to block the hunting seasons to control the wolves, which I completely don’t understand how that could happen.  As a result, the wolf populations have far exceeded the target populations, and other wildlife is being decimated as a result, primarily deer, elk, and pronghorn. 

That impacts every hunter who wants to pursue these animals, but it also creates a downstream effect on the overall environmental control that has been placed out of balance by this lack of control of predators in areas where space is much more limited than it was 140 years ago.  The exact same thing happened with grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area where grizzly bears were reintroduced, but not managed by hunting.  As a result, grizzly bear populations increased beyond the recommended quotas that the environment could support, and other species significantly decreased. 


I don’t understand why anti-hunters don’t understand the conservation model that has restored so many species of animals to numbers that far exceed what they were 140 years ago.  Anti-hunters don’t take the time to understand what wildlife conversation is and how it is a balance of what an environment can support, and how to manage that environment.  The only way to manage that situation is through hunting.  Anti-hunters just think it is wrong to hunt, yet they enjoy seeing the animals that conservation is protecting.  Hunting is conservation. 


I will give a good example of what happens in Colorado.  Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a large elk herd and is also very close to a popular tourist town, Estes Park.  Tourists think it is so cool to go to Estes Park in the fall and see elk all around town and on the golf courses.  The tourists think it is cool to get so close to bugling elk, watching the behavior during the rut, and just seeing the elk in general.  What most people don’t know is that because those elk are protected from hunting, every year the Colorado Parks and Wildlife has to hire professional hunters (both rifle, and archery due to close proximity to civilization) to harvest about 200 of those elk to keep the population at a number that the habitat can support.  Of course, this hunting control activity is not reported on by most news sources. 


Those people that think it is cool to see the elk, but don’t understand that they have to be harvested, are the same people that think it would be cool to have wolves in Colorado again, but they have no understanding of the effects of that.  And when it comes time to vote on something, they are completely uneducated.  These are the same people who contribute nothing to the sustenance of any wildlife or habitat in Colorado, and I am sure it is the same situation in many other states.  They don’t buy fishing or hunting licenses, which is the primary source of income for maintaining these organizations and the wildlife they support.  I have said this many times in my articles; whether you hunt or fish or not, if you like seeing wildlife, buy a fishing license to support that wildlife, it doesn’t require any certifications, is very inexpensive, and can be done online in a matter of minutes.


I have read results of surveys by several different sources (if you want to know the sources, I’m happy to tell you, but I don’t want to litter this article with all those details}.  I will tell you that support of hunting for any game animal, has decreased by 11% over the past two years.  During COVID there was a brief increase in hunting for pure meat and the experience increased, but that has faded away.  Now, the interest in hunting and fishing has decreased significantly in the past three years, and the increase in anti-hunting has increased ominously. 


What bothers me the most is that wildlife management decisions are being left up to a vote of the general public, which I don’t understand at all.  How can we leave these decisions up to a group of people who are uneducated on the topic, and take that decision out of the hands of educated wildlife biologists?  From the statistics I have read, the majority of people who do not agree with the proven method of wildlife conversation come from urban and suburban areas, which tend to have the most density of people.  And the majority of these people are women and African American people.   That tells me that we are not educating the right people about wildlife conservation. 


If you have read my article this far, thank you, because maybe you can make a difference, like I am trying to make a difference.  Our biggest problem right now is educating people.  I can think of so many people in my life today that don’t have a clue about wildlife conservation, but they sure have an opinion about hunting.  Those are the people that can most easily be converted to understand what wildlife conservation is all about, they just don’t know.  The other people are the ones who are blindly against anything related to hunting, and they have no idea about the effects of what they believe in.  Those are the harder people to get to understand what wildlife conservation is all about. 


I was very disappointed to learn today that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission decided to cancel the spring hunting season for mountain lions due to pressure from anti-hunting groups that are trying to stop all mountain lion hunting in Colorado.  It’s another example of anti-hunting groups making progress to stop hunting without understanding what hunting really does for wildlife conservation.  I don’t hunt mountain lions, but there are about 4,000 mountain lions in Colorado, and there are about 500 taken each year by hunters.  If that population and the wolf populations are not controlled, I wonder how many elk and deer I will see the next time I go hunting, or how many my grandchildren will see when they go hunting in 10 years. 


Below are some links to a couple of worthy organizations that can help you learn more about this cause (you may have to press the Ctrl button when you click on the links since they are pasted into this article).

bearmiller

6 min read

Jan 20

159

0

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