Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 2:02 a.m.
A lot of people would love to make wildlife management an environmental issue.
If it does, hunting and trapping will be gone. So will the funding that comes with them. Every management decision will be a popularity contest. Cute, cuddly animals will get what little money there is. Grotesque, scary or shy creatures will disappear, or get out of control and become a big problem.
No other group does more for wildlife conservation than hunters and trappers.
Don’t think so? Just look at the plight of the African elephant. According to a National Public Radio report (June 16), wild populations of African elephants will be exterminated by 2040. Why? Because international wildlife organizations don’t have the popular support and access to funding that regulated hunting could have provided for them.
On the other hand, the North American Model of Wildlife Management (NAMWM) works because of its government/sportsman partnership. Seriously, where else in the world can you get ordinary citizens to pay for the privilege of “working” for the government?
Hunting and trapping help control populations and solve wildlife-related problems that are too big and expensive for wildlife agencies to do on their own. Hunters voluntarily tax themselves, through licenses, tags, stamps, and a tax on firearms, ammunition and archery tackle (Pittman-Robertson funds) totaling more than $1 billion in 2013.
According to a U.S Fish and Wildlife Service survey of American attitudes on hunting, fishing and wildlife, 95 percent of all Americans, including many hunters, have no clue about the role that hunting and trapping play in wildlife management. These folks don’t know anything about wildlife and don’t really want to worry about it. And, the more urbanized America becomes, the more obtuse public opinions about wildlife become.
Thank goodness there are hunters and trappers with the time and energy to be vigilant, or the 95 percent of Americans who couldn’t care less would let the 12 percent of those who strongly disapprove of hunting have their way.