Rugged mountains at sunrise.
 
Opinion
Text: The editorial voice of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

4/26/2010

Just Saying it, Doesn't Make it True

Hunters enjoy using their mantra about being the "true" conservationists. This statement, which clearly demonstrates a divisive us vs. them attitude, keeps showing up in news statements, interviews and hunter blogs. It is something they tell themselves over and over again as if saying it often enough will make the statement true. But that won't happen!

Hunters, as a group, are no more, or less, conservationists than any other American who uses or is interested in this country's wildlife resources. What hunters are, is an extremely vocal special interest group that kills animals. They pay user fees and sales taxes on their hobby's equipment purchases. But paying those expenses no more makes someone a conservationist than paying for a driver's license and buying gas makes one a Texas oil man.

Many hunters falsely believe that only their opinion counts because the taxes raised by their activities are at this time the primary funding source for many of the state fish and game agencies. But, as I was recently reminded, a lot of the "work" of state game agencies is the management of hunters not of wildlife. The survival of America's wildlife doesn't depend upon these state agencies, its survival depends upon habitat, and hunter protection of wildlife habitat is minimal.

Most states rely upon government allocated funds--State as well as Federal--to purchase and protect the critical habitat needed to support their wildlife resources. California's Proposition 117--the Mountain Lion Initiative--alone is responsible for $600 million being spent over the past twenty-years acquiring oak woodland, deer habitat, riparian corridors, and so much more. But government funding is really just the combined contributions of individual taxpayers--ordinary people like you or me. And guns and bullets aren't the only items taxed in this country. Camping equipment, cameras, canoes, outdoor gear, etc. all are taxed, and could, if society so desired, be allocated to fund the care and management of wildlife resources.

It takes all of us to preserve and protect America's wildlife heritage. And it is time the agencies responsible for wildlife resources take into consideration the concerns of all their constituents and not just the ones who like to shoot things.



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