September 26, 2022

Where To Draw The Line

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Hunters compose one of the largest group of conservationists in this country. For obvious reasons, we want to ensure that we will always have game to hunt, therefore it is imperative that we work diligently with local and federal wildlife biologists, etc. to do our part to conserve. It is also no great secret that much of the money that it takes to conserve our wildlife, comes from hunters who buy licenses and equipment for their sport.

That being said, now we must determine where to draw the line when it comes to protecting and managing our wildlife. In other words, how much money do we spend to accomplish specific management goals?

In most rural settings, management of the game species that we hunt, deer, elk, bear, turkey, to name a few, is done through regulating lengths of seasons and permits issued. And, for the most part that works. We also face highly controversial situations in urban areas where some of our wildlife, including game animals, have found sanctuaries. With little or no hunting pressure and homeowners planting luscious gardens that attract these animals, a serious problem arises.

But what do we do to resolve this problem? Who pays the costs associated with it? And, where do we draw the line? I think it is fair to say that it is a minority of people who oppose reducing the numbers through hunting. Those opposed to killing the animals before they kill themselves through disease or starvation, want to spend exorbitant amounts of money on such things as birth control, transplanting or another which may not have immediate associated costs is just letting mother nature take its course.

On the reverse side of wildlife management, we see animals that are near extinction or are at least protected under the Endangered Species Act. We spend millions of dollars annually protecting these animals because we don’t simply, let mother nature take its course while listed as protected. Much time and effort is put into finding ways to improve habitat and increase population.

Placing an animal on the endangered list is much the same as levying a “temporary” tax – once the tax has served its purpose, it almost never gets repealed. Efforts to remove an animal inevitibly run into opposition.

The expense that is incurred to protect and manage our wildlife, whether we are attempting to reduce populations of certain species, maintain or increase, is one that most hunters and taxpayers are willing to bear. But we have to draw a line somewhere as to how much is too much and how little is too little.

One example, which without having all the facts and figures at least makes me question its necessity, pertains to the protection of the grizzly bear in the western mountain regions around Yellowstone Park. The feds are debating whether to delist the grizzly from protection and there are those who oppose the move, the biggest reason is the opening up of bear habitat to development.

In attempts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bolster the bear population, they are considering bringing in female bears from other regions for breeding purposes. One has to ask if this is really necessary? It is traumatic to the bear and expensive. Is this being done to speed up the process in which the bear population grows? If the number of bears in that region does not meet the goals determined through the endangered listing then the bear shouldn’t be delisted. I sooner think this is biologists tinkering with Mother Nature at taxpayers expense.

A certain amount of common sense needs to be injected into the equations in which scientists are working. No one wants to see species of animals eradicated. They may not want them in their back yards but they don’t want them gone forever, nor do they want to see overgrown herds suffer through disease and starvation. We need to determine how much is enough and use some common sense.

Tom Remington