THEY'RE NOT ALL BAD: WHEN GOVERNMENT FIGHTS FOR HUNTER'S RIGHTS
It can be easy to get pessimistic about the trends away from hunting rights in our nation. We can all get caught up in defending what we love. However, today we want to show our appreciation for the various states, commissions, and government officials who have made it a point to stand up for hunters. Over the past few years we have touched on many of these success stories individually. Recently we covered the advancement of SB 301 in Wisconsin, which would repeal regulations on a youth hunter mentorship program and encourage new hunters to join. We have also covered the hunter safety laws that were debated in Wisconsin, and saw how willing its legislature was to address the many problems associated with radical animal rights activism and their harassment of hunters. As you can see, it isn’t always negative. There are legislators and government employees that love hunting just like you and I! Or, at the very least, they recognize the outstanding benefits that come with a boisterous hunting population. We cannot cover the wildlife management and conservation benefits of hunting enough. Despite countless groups who claim to do work to better habitats and help wildlife, the overwhelming majority of conservation funding comes from hunters. Without the involvement of hunters, it is nearly impossible to mitigate the negative effects of increased predator populations, overpopulation risks to humans, and habitat degradation. Just look at the statistics from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that clearly shows the correlation between the 80% decrease in elk population and exploding wolf population in Yellowstone National Park. It takes expertise to manage those populations, and you cannot promote leaving one species to grow out of hand if it means the total annihilation of another. A statement made by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Charles W. Roberts III, when ruling on a proposed bear hunt, applies to everyone who has the job of overseeing populations. He said,
“Our responsibility is to do the best we can to manage wildlife in the state…”
Commissioners, officials, and hunters work very well together to do so, to fulfill their obligation to manage the wildlife. In Florida this meant fewer wrecks, sightings, and bear maulings for the public. In other states this means promoting or protecting sportsmen themselves, as we saw the need for in Wisconsin. In Michigan, the responsibility to manage wildlife was carried out by giving the power of wolf hunt management to experts on an appointed panel at the National Resources Commission. Many other states are beginning to start culling away the restrictions put on hunters by the government, to encourage participation in the sport. In Utah, for example, they are considering HB 84, which would allow 12 year olds to apply for special hunting permits. Other states are doing their part by just fighting back against the influx of radical animal rights groups who falsely claim expertise in conservation. The hunters of Kentucky, for example, took 11 more bears last hunting season than their quota. Now, they are facing severe backlash despite the quota being a rough but conservative estimate of the needed number, not an exact requirement. Even though the number of bear sightings has increased by 1,031.8% over ten years, the activists are claiming the data supporting estimates from the state is lacking. HSUS claims the number of bears in the state is half as high as the estimates from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. They are arguing the facts given by years of research, saying they weren’t precise enough. To put this in perspective, there were an estimated 850,000-950,000 bears in North America in 2008. Yet, Wendy Keefover from HSUS claims that those 11 extra bears could lead “to a second Kentucky black bear extinction." Despite these alarmist-level claims the wildlife division director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Steve Beam, said “We have no reason to believe that we shouldn’t continue with the hunting season.” There are some officials out there who actually care about what is best for the animals, public, and habitats, and not just their image. HSUS can attempt to smear their names, change their minds, and destroy their image, but the sportsmen of this nation will always support them.