(Originally published in the Merritt News)
© By Othmar Vohringer
Just before the federal election was called Prime Minister Harper recommended the creation of a national advisory panel, including hunters and anglers input, to advise the federal government on fish, wildlife and conservation issues.
Unlike the Liberal Party and the NDP, Harper recognizes that Canadian hunters and anglers are on the forefront of wildlife and fish conservation and have been so long before conservation became the politically correct buzzword of special interest groups. Harper agrees that hunters and anglers should have an active voice in the decision making process on issues concerning fish, wildlife and conservation and also recognizes that recreational fishing and hunting is an important Canadian heritage, creating wealth and employment while wildlife resources continue to grow.
Prime Minister Harper said “Fishing, hunting and trapping are heritage activities, upon which this country was founded. Anglers and hunters were among the first to call for conservation of our vital natural resources, to demand game laws to protect wildlife, and to help create what has become known as the North American model for wildlife conservation.”
The North American Wildlife Conservation Program was started under Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter. The so-called “Roosevelt doctrine” included hunters as a vital part in this revolutionary wildlife conservation program. Hundreds of millions of hunter and hunting related dollars provided the financial backbone for conservation efforts across America and Canada. In addition, sportsmen organizations supporting single species or related groups of wildlife, such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, Wild Turkey Foundation, etc. have provided vital support, and continue to do so. It was this exemplary effort that made it possible to bring many wildlife species back from the brink of extinction.
North Americans generated a secure funding base for wildlife conservation by adopting the user-pay principle as policy in 1930 by the North American Game Conference. Ever since, North Americans have taxed themselves on behalf of wildlife through the purchase of hunting, fishing, trapping licenses and migratory bird stamps. The resounding success of this combined conservation effort of hunters, sportsmen organizations and governments has no equal in the world. Today North America is one of the game-richest regions in the world and because our conservation program is so successful it is now copied in Africa and parts of Europe.
A uniquely North American profession, the university-trained wildlife and fish biologist ensures that North American wildlife and fish receive professionally qualified attention and care in its conservation and management. The training of qualified biologists in the large numbers employed throughout North America would be impossible without the vast sums of money generated from recreational hunters and anglers.
In the face of this background it is absolutely mind boggling to me that the Liberal Party and the NDP do not support hunters, or worse yet, want to restrict hunting. Harper gets it; hunters are the backbone of sound wildlife management based on science and therefore hunters need to have a voice in the decision making process.
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