What is the role of conservation in your neck of the woods? If I asked you that and you weren’t prepared to answer, you’d probably say “to protect wildlife.” But then my question would be this: don’t you hunt? How does that protect wildlife?
But this isn’t a black and white issue. After all, don’t some vegetarians eat fish? But that’s a discussion for another day.
There’s a debate going on in Florida right now over a wind farm that is being proposed in the Florida Everglades. I’m sure that there are many groups who are bent out of shape over this. But one of the groups is the local waterfowl conservation group. They argue that the giant wind turbines pose a threat to migrating ducks. The conservation group estimates that annually, the turbines will kill around 300 ducks.
But the waterfowl conservation group has a huge reason for wanting to protect the ducks. They want to hunt them.
Critics say that the conservationists just want to save the ducks so they can kill them. But as a hunter, that irks me.
Americans don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to wildlife conservation. Have you checked the numbers on American buffalo lately? The population of buffalo was once in the tens of millions. Today it’s a little over 500,000. But, that was before the idea of wildlife conservation came into play.
Consider your local deer population. Hunters are sold a certain number of tags based on the population of deer in an area. More males are harvested than females to keep populations strong and growing. Yes, hunters kill animals. But careful consideration is given to which animals and what the impact will be on the population.
When people kill deer randomly and outside the sphere of conservation, they are punished. It isn’t tolerated. So when a machine randomly kills ducks in the Everglades, I understand why conservations oppose.
Hunting is more than killing. It’s population control. It’s health and wellness management. It’s respect for animals. It’s revenue for states. It’s a hobby. It’s a passion. It’s history and heritage and for most of us, it’s food on the table.
I don’t mean to get on my soap box, but to suggest that conservationists just want to save animals so they can kill them themselves is ridiculous. But I don’t really expect those people to get it. I doubt you do either.