This past weekend, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) brought hunters from all over the country to Edgefield, South Carolina for its annual Turkey shoot (shooting clay pigeons, not turkeys). The shoot works to promote shooting while also promoting conservation, two things that our animal rights opponents would argue are mutually exclusive. That is quite the opposite of the truth, though, as this shoot hopes to get the word out about conservation efforts which are funded through hunting expenditures.
For instance, when a hunting license is purchased, it is accompanied by a excise tax. This tax, authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act, creates a fund to help states manage wildlife and habitats. This money goes to directly helping animals, as well as to fund studies that will help us to better acquire data, gives us knowledge of better hunting techniques through education programs, and even improves areas for non-hunters, such as hiking trails and campsites.
So you see, hunting benefits non-hunters as well.
Another form of funding for habitats is the Federal Duck Stamp. Purchased at many locations including your local sporting goods stores, these stamps primarily help to acquire and protect wetland habitat, among several other uses which you can read about here.
These are just two of the many ways hunters give back to the land that gives so much to them. Many sportsmen groups will reiterate these same points in better detail. They view themselves as stewards of the land, a responsibility that motivates them to take good care of the land and its inhabitants. This not only ensures that future generations can benefit from the land as both hunters and non-hunters, but the animals that provide for us are allowed to thrive.
Wildlife management efforts in the United States have allowed certain animal populations to grow immensely over the past decades and now be stabilized at strong levels. The wild turkey that the National Wild Turkey Federation values so greatly is seeing a total population level today that Americans 100 years ago probably couldn’t fathom. In the early 1900s, its total was roughly 100,000. Through coordinated efforts by sportsmen and others, that number is now over 7,000,000!
We are grateful that hunters in America are so responsible when it comes to these efforts. Chris Piltz, Special Events Director at the National Wild Turkey Federation, says it well:
“Our goal is to save the habitat, save the hunt. The hunter is the driving force for conservation throughout country. There are a lot of groups that do a lot of good for nature, for wildlife, for preservation, but the hunter is actually where the finances come from.”
Imagine where these habitats and species might be without the modern hunter. Well-regulated hunting seasons go a long way to making sure that they are sustained and that resources are abundant for all. But don’t just take our word for it. There are dozens of fantastic organizations out there working towards this goal. You can find a list of many of them at National Shooting Sports Foundation’s website.
The notion among some non-hunters that hunting and conservation do not go hand-in-hand is misguided, because they most certainly do. Organizations like NWTF are doing a major service to all hunters by helping to educate those in the general public about hunting’s societal benefits. We must help them in this process by telling our friends, relatives, and neighbors the same things in order to promote hunters as the true conservationists.