Can hunters and anglers make a difference for climate change?
After all, sportsmen and sportswomen have a long history of solving conservation challenges.
Hunters — and I am one — take justifiable pride in their role in purchasing national wildlife refuges, restoring wildlife populations and conserving wetlands and other habitat.
And they have a history of getting things done.
For instance, when the nationwide wild turkey population dropped to 30,000, hunters got involved and reintroduced them across their historic range. Today, some 7 million wild turkeys roam the continent.
How many species conservation efforts are so successful?
But lately, the greater conservation community notes that hunters and anglers aren’t doing much for the most pressing environmental issues of the day, like climate change.
It’s just another chapter in the long history of sportsmen and conservationists not seeing eye-to-eye.
On the one hand, too many environmentalists will work with hunters when it’s convenient, but otherwise look upon those same “allies” with disdain or even contempt. At times, some organizations say they support hunting, but then seem eager to back anti-hunting legislation.
But it’s also true that a certain segment of sportsmen too frequently lump environmentalists in with animal rightists, and see any “green” legislation as a threat to hunting and fishing traditions.
That’s why it’s heartening to see the Seasons’ End campaign, an effort by hunting and fishing organizations to find solutions to the climate change issue.
Supported by such respected sportsman-led conservation groups as Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and others, the coalition offers substantial information on how climate change will affect game and fish species, and by extension hunting and fishing opportunities.
“In my forty-year career as a biologist, I’ve seen the attitude toward climate change go from denial to depression. But depression is a paralyzing condition. We need to move forward with energy and excitement and hope. This is the best time in history to be a conservationist.”
American hunters and anglers still have a role to play in shaping conservation policy, and can still get things done.
The Seasons’ End campaign has the potential to bring the long tradition of the hunter-conservationist to today’s most pressing environmental issue.
(Photo: The author hunting in Idaho’s Owyhee Canyonlands. Credit: Jennifer Miller.)