One of the downfalls with blogging, especially when you’re trying to keep the posts coming in some type of regular interval, is that frequently you don’t think a post all the way through. Or, as with much writing, you think you’ve just penned the next Pulitzer when no one else knows what the hell you’re talking about! With that, I’m not sure I effectively made my point in the last post on lions.
My fundamental thesis is that habitat loss and human encroachment, not sport hunting, is the single greatest threat to wildlife populations worldwide. The corollary to this is that, as ironic as it may seem to some, increasing the pace and scale of sport hunting across the globe may be humanity’s last chance at not only saving, but resurrecting healthy ecosystems and the animal populations that inhabit them. And not just game species – when you protect habitat for game species you inherently protect it for the non-game species as well. Although exceptions to anything always occur, I’m willing to bet that most hunters understand the relationship between their game species of interest and the health of the broader ecosystem on which those particular animals depend.
This is why NWTF’s new initiative, Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt, ultimately gets to the heart of what drives true conservation – without the habitat there is no hunting; without hunting, there is no habitat. So, what about all those anti-hunting organizations and individuals that claim to be protecting all those animals out there for future generations? That’s not what they’re accomplishing. Assuming that they really believe they’re saving wildlife populations by abolishing hunting (and I would argue that they largely protest hunting because they find it emotionally distasteful, not because they are fundamentally concerned with wildlife population viability), the energy and funding they put into those efforts is wasted in the long run. None of them seem to be concerned with saving habitat.
This is what sets hunting conservation organizations like the NWTF apart from other “environmental” groups. Hunting organizations recognize the need for habitat preservation and expansion and ultimately put their money into those efforts. This benefits more than just hunters and game species – any user or inhabitant of those areas benefits considerably, be it insects like the Karner Blue Butterfly or bird watchers out for a Sunday stroll in the same places where hunters take bear, deer or coyotes (both real-world examples). The issue with lion conservation in Africa that I last posted about, reflects this fundamental truth. Lands in Africa will continue to be put under the plow, clear cut for villages or farms, or overrun with cattle unless an economic incentive for habitat preservation is available for local villagers. Anti-hunters who successfully limit legal hunting may win a battle but in the end will lose the war for wildlife conservation. And all of us who wish to enjoy bountiful wildlife, for whatever reason, will see those goals unfulfilled. But then again, perhaps saving wildlife is not what anti-hunters want…..
What do YOU want?