Kristine from the Hunt Smart and Think Safety Blog and chairperson of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit has challenged the founding members of the OBS to write about a hunting related conservation organization. I am way behind with this contribution. For health (injury) and technical (computer death) reasons I just had no way to take this challenge up until today. The good thing about this delay is that it gave me almost a week to think about hunters and wildlife/ habitat conservation.
British Columbia Wildlife Federation
To the average non-hunting person hunting and wildlife conservation may not seem to fit together. I would not be surprised given that the mainstream media generally portrays hunters as trigger-happy Bambi killers. Since I know that this blog is also read by non-hunters I would first like to shine some light on the contributions hunters make to both wildlife and habitat conservation.
When looking at the facts, hunters really have nothing to be ashamed of - quite the opposite in fact. In British Columbia hunters annually generate about $100 million – yes, you read that right: One Hundred Million Buck-aroos. Through license sales and hunting related goods and services, immense sums of money are garnered by the provincial government’s “Fish And Wildlife Recreation and Allocation Branch” (The fancy name for our wildlife agency.)
Similar sums are generated in the other Canadian provinces and U.S. states as well. This is the money which is used by the wildlife agencies for the upkeep of provincial and state parks, wildlife research and habitat conservation.
But that is not all. These government agencies can count on the reliable support of hunter organized wildlife conservation organizations, most of which contribute many additional millions of dollars annually. There are literally hundreds of such organizations in Canada and the USA. Some of these organizations operate at the national level but many are also international, such as the Safari Club International and Ducks Unlimited.
Nationally orientated organizations such as the Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, among many others to numerous to list here, mostly concentrate on one species of animal.
And finally, at the local and state/provincial level, wildlife organizations are mostly concerned with wildlife and habitat in their particularly defined areas. The membership of such organizations is made up of hunters who not only spend dollars, but also time and personal effort to improve animal populations and diverse habitats.
As a showcase of hunter dedicated wildlife conservation let me showcase three scenarios as example for many. The North American wild turkey has rebounded from near extinction to numbers never known before. Thanks to millions of dollars from hunters and their personal dedication and hard work we can admire turkeys even in places where they have not been seen in more than hundred years.
The elk had a similar fate as the turkey: about hundred years ago this majestic animal was near extinction. Today, thanks to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, working closely with federal and local wildlife agencies, the elk bugle can be heard all over North America again- even in states such as Tennessee where elk haven’t been seen in more than two generations.
Waterfowl numbers have dramatically increased in the last two decades; alone in the last two years the duck population has increased a staggering 42%. This would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of Ducks Unlimited and their waterfowl hunting members.
So the next time you camp or hike in a state park or provincial park and admire the variety of wildlife, remember that hunters – a minority group – have paid the lion’s share for it and that it is hunters who take out their personal time to actively participate in enhancement programs, wildlife counting, wildlife enhancement programs, tree planting among many other time consuming activities to help wildlife and habitat. And yet, the benefits of these efforts can be enjoyed by all- even the non-hunters and the animal rights activists.
Governments have known all along that if hunting would cease to exist tomorrow then so would wildlife and habitat conservation. There simply would not be enough money available for it without huge tax increases, which is why governments rely on hunter’s dollars to finance conservation. You see, hunters are not all just a bunch of gun toting rednecks heading out to the woods every year to kill a deer for the sheer thrill of it. Hunting is not a sport, like football or tennis; it is a lifestyle that can be acquired or one is born into it. Hunters spend all year in the woods, fields and on the water observing wildlife. Often it is hunters that alert the wildlife agencies of changes in wildlife populations, habitat degradation and other issues that negatively affect wildlife and habitats. In other words, hunters are the eyes and ears of the wildlife agencies.
The majority of hunters are members of not only one, but also several other wildlife conservation organizations. Choosing one of these organizations to highlight here put me in a bit of a bind since all are equally reputable albeit in different fields. The coin finally fell for the British Columbia Wildlife Federation or for short: BCWF. I am a proud member of this organization, and a few others, for many years.
The origins of the BCWF can be traced back as early as 1890, long before wildlife conservation and environment protection became the new rage. The simple mission statement of the BCWF is:
1.) To ensure the sound, long-term management of British Columbia's fish, wildlife, park and outdoor recreational resources in the best interests of all British Columbians, and to coordinate all the voluntary agencies, societies, clubs and individuals interested in that objective, and
2.) To develop and support a comprehensive educational program to make all British Columbians aware of the value of British Columbia's fish, wildlife, park and outdoor recreational resources, and to arouse in the public conscience a recognition of, and a respect for, the place of fish, wildlife and outdoor recreation in the wise integrated use of the nation's natural resources.
To this end the BCWF works closely together with government and the Wildlife Agency of British Columbia, its membership is largely made up (over 90%) of hunters. Today the BCWF is a major voice in British Columbia in all things wildlife and habitat concerned. Its membership is regularly engaged in various habitat and wildlife conservation programs. Such programs can be a Saturday afternoon riverbank cleanups to more labor involved tasks such as educational instructor plus anything in between.
Wildlife Conservation, Hunting Heritage, BCWF, Outdoor Bloggers Summit