(Originally published in the Merritt News)
© By Othmar Vohringer
I have to admit that at times I take the beauty of our nature and the variety of wildlife for granted. But every so often I am reminded of just how beautiful British Columbia is and what diversity it has to offer to the hunters and nature enthusiasts. One such reminder occurred about three weeks ago. My wife Heidi, an award winning photographer and graphic artist, submitted a few prints for an exhibition in the Courthouse Gallery. The theme of the exhibition was “Native Animals”. Besides landscapes and portraiture, wildlife is one of Heidi’s specialities. After Heidi made a selection for the exhibition form the thousands of images on file she called me to give my opinion on which pictures should make it to the final cut.
As I looked though the images it once again occurred to me just how very fortunate we are here in British Columbia. Did you know that except for the prong horned antelope, the alligator and the polar bear we have a representative of almost every North American wildlife species and sub species right here in our province? For example, of the three subspecies of moose two can be found in our province and the same holds true for bears and many others such as the mountain ram. Deer hunters have the choice of whitetail deer, mule deer or blacktail deer.
But best of all is that no matter what you hear or read in the news from politically motivated, self-styled environmentalist organizations our wildlife populations are thriving. For example we hear often that bears are endangered in our province. That is what the politically and money motivated want you to believe but the fact is that BC with it’s 180,000 black bears and over 90,000 grizzly bears has the biggest bear population anywhere in North America. In many areas both grizzly and black bear populations have reached numbers that are to high for their habitats carrying capacity.
That British Columbia became a wildlife paradise did of course not just happen by accident. Rather it is the result of a wildlife and habitat management program based on science, rather than on political flavour and emotions as pursued by the self-styled conservation organizations that continually hug the media, vilifying hunters as detrimental to wildlife and conservation. Hunters are in fact at the forefront of wildlife conservation, putting their money where their mouths are. Hunters contribute the lion’s share of the money for wildlife and habitat conservation, a huge expense that otherwise would have to come from the already burdened taxpayers. The money needed is generated form the sale of hunting licenses, species stamps, and other fees hunters must pay.
Hunters are also active in various organizations, founded by hunters and dedicated to conservation, such as Ducks Unlimited, BC Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wild Sheep Society of BC and numerous other organizations working on national, provincial and regional levels to ensure a prosperous future of our wildlife and environment. You never hear or read much in the mainstream media about the conservation effort hunters put forward and that is because most hunters are unassuming doing what they love to do. Some hunters and anglers are so dedicated to conservation that they have volunteered their entire life to conservation. One such remarkable individual lives right here in our community and I will be dedicating a future column to this person.