Utah Wildlife Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Commerce, Conservation and the Democracy of Hunting
June 13th, 2007
Drafted for Pheasants Forever
By
Jim Posewitz
March, 2007

"As the percentage of people that hunt in this country fades, a variety of theories are advanced to explain and then deal with this disturbing reality. How could an activity so profoundly linked to our human nature, and so basic to our lifestyle a generation ago, find itself fading from our culture? Hunted wildlife populations are quite healthy considering the stress human expansion has put on their habitat. Still, in spite of this stress we continue to achieve high and even growing levels of sustained harvest on many key game species. That is not bad for a country that was literally stripped of its wildlife resource a century ago. Granted, we battle constantly to sustain healthy habitat and wild places, and therein lies the need for a constant stream of new recruits to carry the conservation ethic of hunters through the 21st Century. The challenge seems to be to recruit and retain enough hunters in the field to sustain what is clearly the greatest wildlife conservation achievement in human history. Perpetuity, however, is a long time and like links forged in a chain we cannot afford to skip a generation.

Those of us who believe our North American hunting legacy is worth keeping as part of who we are as a society need to examine the full spectrum of social influences impacting hunter recruitment and retention. When searching for an elusive truth one really needs to look beyond the obvious and by-pass the superficial. For example, quite a bit has been written about the many influences competing for the attention of our youth. The issue of catching the time and attention of young people is an obvious problem and many hunting organizations are developing excellent programs to work on this aspect. We all need to do what we can to sustain and expand this work; it is as necessary as it is obvious. Since I used the word superficial to define the other end of the spectrum of issues vying for our attention, let me suggest that animal rights and anti-hunting campaigns occupy more of our time and attention than they deserve. They have been around for the last century, and while they raise a lot of money and live well, they have not done much serious damage. They are a parasite and we are their host. They are an irritation but they are not likely to kill us - they and their business model require us. We still see presidential candidates walking around with a dead duck or goose to prove they are worthy of the people's support - hunting is clearly ok with most Americans.

What lies beyond the obvious and superficial, receiving precious little attention, is the impact of commercialized hunting on the North American hunting community and culture. Some degree of commerce in wildlife and wildlife parts has been the constant companion of the North American hunting culture since Native Americans exchanged wild things and products for trade goods with the first European immigrants. At times our commercial companions have been fundamental to the success of wildlife conservation. A prime example of their positive impact was when gun and ammo manufacturers supported the excise tax on firearms and ammunition as part of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937. At other times, however, commercial enterprise provided us with our most desperate hour. Some examples from the dark-side are the 19th Century trade in buffalo hides and tongues; and, more recently the remote killing of wildlife through the Internet with the simple touch of a computer key.

We have often been told we can find the way forward if we pay some attention to how we got this far. In other words, seek the truth in the stories of things that already happened. "History matters," was the theme of a July 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine that was devoted to the story of Theodore Roosevelt's importance to our culture. No one did more than TR to introduce America to conservation and pass a viable hunting heritage to our time and custody. Time's managing editor Richard Stengel opened the story by writing: "Being an American is not based on a common ancestry, a common religion, even a common culture - it's based on accepting an uncommon set of ideas. And if we don't understand those ideas, we don't value them; and if we don't value them, we don't protect them ." Among the uncommon ideas embedded in our society was the idea that anyone with the desire could be a hunter. In addition, fish and wildlife were determined to be public resources - not private assets. As the saga of the world's most important democracy unfolded, sport or recreational hunters and anglers emerged as the most important group that enabled America to find and then embrace a conservation ethic.

The very idea that fish and wildlife in American would be a public resource managed by the states, for the enjoyment of everyone, didn't just simply happen. The public trust management concept emerged through a series of court decisions relying on the principle that in a democracy people are 'sovereign.' The notion that the people rather than the king would rule fit nicely with the philosophy held by 19 th Century wildlife advocates who put an end to the commercial slaughter of wildlife and replaced the game butchers for hire with legions of conservation oriented sport hunters. There were a good number of progressive conservation thinkers and advocates at that time. Among them, no one was more prominent in this battle than Theodore Roosevelt.

Although TR was born to wealth and privilege his heart was dedicated to equal opportunity for every American. He firmly believed that he carried a responsibility to use his status and privileged circumstance to lift us all. When it came to natural resources Roosevelt wrote: "Our aim is to preserve our natural resources for the public as a whole, for the average man and the average woman who make up the body of the American people." When it came to the hunt his words were: "Above all, we should realize that the effort toward this end is essentially a democratic movement. . to give reasonable opportunities for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether he is or is not a man of means."

Thus, two themes take root in America fundamental to wildlife conservation and hunting: 1) the commercial use of wildlife must end; and, 2) everyone needs to be afforded the opportunity to participate. Since history matters, the effect of these fundamental principles has to be judged an awesome human achievement. North America's wildlife Renaissance became the envy of the world. Today we live with the abundance that this straightforward formula produced. From coast to coast of this broad continent we now have deer in our suburbs, bears in our orchards and goose dung on every golf shoe in America - and we did it all on purpose.

Predictably, new challenges arise and among the new issues we find, that in spite of the wonderful abundance of game, hunter recruitment and retention remains a perplexing problem. We also find a rapid expansion of commercial hunting ventures that have been attracted to the restored wildlife abundance. These two issues, hunter recruitment/retention and commercial hunting, are probably related. In simple terms, the buffalo hunters are back with a slightly modified business model. The objective however looks similar and familiar - to capitalize on the public's resource.

One only has to browse the advertisements in any of the contemporary sporting magazines to find a vigorous market in the sale of hunting experiences. The products come in a variety of shapes and sizes: shooting captive or pen raised wildlife, private access to public wildlife, leasing private estates, and various other options available for a variety of fees. What almost all of them have in common is the exclusion of the hunter who is not a man of means. The more common these practices of exclusion become: the more fragile our hunter based conservation heritage becomes; the more difficult recruitment and retention become; and, the more closely we are drawn to the old aristocratic notions of the king's deer. In this case, the dollar is the new king,

Historian Daniel Justin Herman, in an article titled Hunting Democracy states: "American citizens, not those who governed them, were sovereign. In the U.S., moreover, every adult . enjoyed another right that only kings and aristocrats had held in earlier centuries: the right to hunt. . The right to hunt and the right to make political choices [vote] emerged simultaneously in the U.S." Author Herman later observed: "At one moment, hunting has operated in American culture as a rite of democracy and at the next [moment], as a rite of aristocracy. That pendulum swing continues today." And as this pendulum swings toward aristocracy it knocks off more hunters and potential hunters than PETA and like groups could ever have hoped to do.

Our predecessors where quite aware of this peril. Theodore Roosevelt spoke directly to it on a number of occasions. In his book, Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter he wrote: "The professional market hunter who kills game for the hide or for the feathers or for the meat or to sell antlers and other trophies; . and the rich who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own exertions - these are the men who are the real enemies of game." In his autobiography TR spoke directly to aristocratic notions writing: "There have been aristocracies which have played a great and beneficent part at stages in the growth of mankind; but we had come to the stage where for our people what was needed was a real democracy, and of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy."

The peril in some of the contemporary forms of commercial hunting is not in that they seek compensation for landowner needs or for services provided. The peril is its own belief that it must exclude every rank and file hunter or aspiring hunter unable or unwilling to pay the toll. The restoration of wildlife to North America happened because the people, all the people, willed it - and then made it happen. England gives us a glimpse of the alternative where wildlife passed from the hands of royalty to the holders of property. In England the contest for access to game has gone on for thirteen centuries and today the boar, the beaver, the wolf, the bear, the aurocs, and the reindeer - are extinct. The ritual of chasing the fox continues to be attacked by the people as a symbol of the hated aristocracy. History matters.

Perhaps we could work on the idea that this marvelous North American hunting legacy can be shared among all those who aspire to the hunt. Perhaps it would not be unreasonable to have clients and free hunters walking the same field - both taking the time to learn, understand, and appreciate - why the other is there. It would be a way of acknowledging the special nature of hunting in a democracy where the wildlife is not 'owned' but held in trust for all of us. Remember editor Stengle's point about our American ideas when he warned, "Being an American is . based on accepting an uncommon set of ideas. And if we don't understand those ideas, we don't value them; and if we don't value them, we don't protect them ." Hunting is clearly among those uniquely American ideas and it would be a sad day if that uncommon idea slipped away because we lost or sold the balance between commerce and conservation that we briefly held. It was a delicate balance and we did it in the only place where it had a chance - America.

Finally, the last word comes from the most recent president whose likeness we chiseled into the granite of Mount Rushmore. They are words we need to chisel into our own conscience as we address hunter recruitment, hunter retention and the future of wildlife conservation in America.

"I should much regret to see grow up in this country a system of large private game preserves kept for the enjoyment of the very rich. One of the chief attractions of the life of the wilderness is its rugged and stalwart democracy. There every man stands for what he actually is and can show himself to be.""
Theodore Roosevelt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,162 Posts
Jim Posewitz said:
Author Herman later observed: "At one moment, hunting has operated in American culture as a rite of democracy and at the next [moment], as a rite of aristocracy. That pendulum swing continues today." And as this pendulum swings toward aristocracy it knocks off more hunters and potential hunters than PETA and like groups could ever have hoped to do.
Saints preserve us! It's another one of them "preachers"! :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
Ha! but he preached the KINGS DEER ! since i have thought and posted this same thing for some time i appreticiate some else using the same history lesson. simply put it will get harder and harder to bring young people into the hunting world, the opportunities are dwindling. And everything (includung grocerys,fuel,phonebill) are becoming the only focus alot of households can afford. with prices rocketing and the LE hunts so hard to draw, how can the average father take their sons and daughters consistently out and have quality big opps? I believe that for a child to grow up with a pure love for the outdoors and the wildlife it holds, many many hours must be spent in the outdoors. The way the system is frieghttraining away from the future hunters and outdoorsman, The consequence could be dire for hunters and animals alike. I somwhat agree with the article the anti hunting groups really are not as big as threat as we give them credit for. :D Good post wyo2utah
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
824 Posts
With prices rocketing and the LE hunts so hard to draw, how can the average father take their sons and daughters consistently out and have quality big opps?
Expand and improve general season opportunity.

I'm not advocating doing away with LE units but we already have enough LE hunting in relation to general season. Everyone would like to find ways to shorten the wait of LE hunting but it can not be done. You may find a way to change up things to reduce the wait for a time but history shows those max points just keep on climbing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just a few figures to think about: "...hunters are facing unprecedented challenges. Only 25 percent of youth from hunting households are active hunters; over the past 25 years, the total numbr of hunters has dropped 23 percent; for every 100 hunters lost nationally, only 69 hunters take their place. These developments, which are negatively impacting all conservation organizations, need to be addressed with vigor and reversed." The question is how do we reverse these trends?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,174 Posts
Get rid of ALL trophy hunters! They are the cause of all the ills of hunting, so get rid of them and Utopia is sure to follow! _(O)_
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Experts hope to stem drop in hunting, fishing
DeWayne Smith

Jul. 25, 2007 09:27 PM

A fourth-grader once told journalist and author Richard Louv that he liked to play indoors because that's where the electrical outlets are.

For Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, the comment, published in Field & Stream magazine, was not surprising as he makes a point that never before has a generation of children been so separated from the natural world.

Recruitment and retention of hunters and anglers is a big concern these days for natural resource agencies such as the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which hosted the annual meeting of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Flagstaff this month.

Those two R's were the main topic of conversation at the gathering, where about 300 representatives from 23 states and four Canadian provinces listened as a panel discussed ways to introduce people (including youths) to outdoor pursuits, ways to keep those who are on the verge of leaving or bringing those who have left back into the fold.

Those who purchase hunting and fishing licenses and permits are the ones, by and large, who pay for the conservation and scientific management of wildlife in the United States.

"Hunters and fishermen are the piston that drives the conservation engine," said Shane Mahoney, a Canadian biologist and philosopher who has become the point man in a groundswell effort to reintroduce Americans to the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation.

"If you take hunting and fishing out of the equation, the whole (wildlife management) effort collapses."

Mahoney and other outdoors experts examined why the number of Americans who hunt and fish continues to decline.

Statistics provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency that, among other things, tracks participatory trends, show some startling numbers.

The number of anglers buying licenses has dropped 5 million since 1996 to 30 million.

Shrinkage in the hunting ranks has brought the total to 12.5 million from 14 million in 1996.

The only group that is growing is the wildlife watchers, who number 71 million, and 95 percent of those are people who participated around their home and most of those were involved in feeding wildlife, while 32 percent took trips to view animals.

The numbers become somewhat blurred because hunters and anglers are watchers as well.

But there are a myriad of reasons why people don't hunt and fish.

Some of the reasons discussed at the meeting were complex rules and regulations, reduced hunting opportunities, age restrictions, a lack of encouragement or help for older hunters, increasing urbanization of the population, rising license and permit costs, difficult access to recreational lands and a perception that hunting and fishing is cruel and inhumane.

"We try to placate the public by becoming invisible," Keck told the group.

"And hunters are passive as to why they hunt. We are terrible at selling the product we have. We need to sell the sizzle of hunting and conservation."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like British Colombia's perspective and what they are trying to do to increae hunter retention:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/ds/docs/ 070607_HunterRecruitment-RetentionStrategy.pdf

Here is a sample paragraph:
"Limited Entry hunting is now widespread, controlling many of the best opportunities for most big game species. When it was originally introduced, Limited Enry was a strategy to allow hunting to continue in cases where it had to be closely controlled to avoid overharvest. Throughout the years, Limited Entry has been applied more and more broadly. Regional staff often lack the resources to properly inventory their game populations and therefore turn to Limited Entry as a tool to ensure that hunting pressure does not exceed what can be sustained. This is a laudable intention, but it may be that wildlife managers are being excessively conservative in some cases. Some Limited Entry Limited Entry is a useful and valuable tool, but it also limites hunting opportunity and should only be used when truly needed.... Hunting is primarily a social activity, usually undertaken by small groups of people with a long history of hunting together. Under Limited Entry conditions, it is common for one or two members of such a group to be drawn while other members are not. This situation fragments the social fabric of hunting and is extremely detrimental to participation..."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,798 Posts
I'd venture a guess that the majority of people, I know, who wish to hunt want to do it in familiar areas and mostly close to home. I have many family and friends (ok maybe they don't claim me as a friend) who have stopped hunting because their areas were made limited entry. My dad and brother hunted Any Bull units until 1998 when they made the area close to our house a Limited Entry unit. A lot of people who I meet in the area know I hunt. I can't tell you guys how many times I have heard they don't hunt anymore because it is too far to drive, too complicated to know where to go. This is a real problem for the people whom were hunters, but now have an old -06 sitting in the back closet collecting dust. I won't say trophy hunting is the cause of all this, but it has played a part, just another spoke in the wheel, so-to-speak.

Those of us who visit these sites are much more hard core than the majority of hunters. We think about hunting everyday, where to go, what to do. Most people don't even think about it until the Fall and many times it is too late to get a tag. A Southern or Central Deer tag will cost you 2 years of waiting. A bull elk permit cost my Dad 13 years. Most people just don't have that attention span.

Many people want to hunt, they just can't. There is no easy solution to that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
824 Posts
Get rid of ALL trophy hunters! They are the cause of all the ills of hunting, so get rid of them and Utopia is sure to follow!
Then who would thin out all the hundreds of deer and elk herds in the high country and of the beaten path on the general season units? :wink:

Two words you won't hear me say in argueing "LE hunting, general season, opportunity..." are TROPHY HUNTER. So lets not try and make that the issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,174 Posts
10000ft. said:
Two words you won't hear me say in argueing "LE hunting, general season, opportunity..." are TROPHY HUNTER. So lets not try and make that the issue.
Who do you think wyo2ut is 'blaming' for pushing the LE units? Answer: 'trophy hunters'. So, that IS the issue.
The number of anglers buying licenses has dropped 5 million since 1996 to 30 million.

Shrinkage in the hunting ranks has brought the total to 12.5 million from 14 million in 1996.
I wonder how LE units are to blame for the loss of anglers being LARGER than the loss of hunters? :? Maybe there is A LOT more to it than blaming it on the rich/trophy hunters. Just a thought!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
proutdoors said:
The number of anglers buying licenses has dropped 5 million since 1996 to 30 million.

Shrinkage in the hunting ranks has brought the total to 12.5 million from 14 million in 1996
I wonder how LE units are to blame for the loss of anglers being LARGER than the loss of hunters? :? Maybe there is A LOT more to it than blaming it on the rich/trophy hunters. Just a thought!
Here is another thought...in the same time that hunting has turned more and more restrictive and regulated, so has fishing. IN fact, I would be willing to bet that restrictive, trophy-type fishing regulations are much more common than they were in 1996! The push for trophy fish and restrictive fishing regulations has also been a part of the decrease in fishing license sales...no doubt about it. This is also the reason that the Utah DWR and the Board have been bluntly pushing for simpler regulations that can be applied across the board...

...the issue is that hunter/angler numbers are in a downward trend and, in order to keep the hunting/fishing traditions alive as we know it, we must retain hunters and recruit new hunters into the fold. Don't you think, Pro, that we should at least look at what is causing these alarming trends?

Also, FWIW, the decrease in number of anglers may be larger, but percentage wise not by much. And, when I read polls like the one that Field and Stream conducted that showed that only 13% of hunters consider themselves trophy hunters compared to 87% who don't, yes...I get a little dismayed!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,174 Posts
wyoming2utah said:
Also, FWIW, the decrease in number of anglers may be larger, but percentage wise not by much. And, when I read polls like the one that Field and Stream conducted that showed that only 13% of hunters consider themselves trophy hunters compared to 87% who don't, yes...I get a little dismayed!
Why does that "dismay" you? Would you prefer 87% to consider themselves trophy hunters? :p

I agree we should look at ALL the causes, not try and pigeon hole into one 'cause' being the primary factor. Society has changed since Teddy Roosevelt's heydays. To expect/believe we can manage wildlife and hunters the same today as in the early 1900's is naive and near-sighted. They didn't have all the 'distractions' for the kids and adults we have today, there wasn't tv's/gameboys/playstations/internet/myspace/etc. We can NOT ignore these factors and only focus on, in YOUR words, 13% of the hunting population. I dare say that 13% is more active in general than the 'casual' 87% who just want to hunt. Before you and others get all fired up, I have no doubt there are passionate "non-trophy" hunters, but MANY of that demographic are good at practicing APATHY. I see that in the number of people who bother to go to RAC's, WB meetings, write/e-mail board members, write/call/e-mail law makers about wildlife related issues, as PROOF that APATHY is the leading cause of hunter recruitment declining. Way too many dads working two jobs to pay the rent, truck/atv payments, single parent families, electronic entertainment, the instant gratification mindset prevalent in todays world. These are REAL issues that affect hunter recruitment, along with the 'urbanization' of more and more Americans. City folks are a lot less likely to be hunters than rural folks, for obvious reasons. I dare say fewer teachers/mentors for kids today are hunters. We need more hunters to step forward and introduce youth to hunting/fishing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
proutdoors said:
Why does that "dismay" you? Would you prefer 87% to consider themselves trophy hunters? :p

I agree we should look at ALL the causes, not try and pigeon hole into one 'cause' being the primary factor. Society has changed since Teddy Roosevelt's heydays. To expect/believe we can manage wildlife and hunters the same today as in the early 1900's is naive and near-sighted.
1) these numbers dismay me because much larger portions of our wildlife are being managed for trophies than 13%. In other words, the "active" 13% as you call it is making the rules for the large majority of hunters...this is dismaying!

2) I have NEVER pigeon-holed one thing as the primary cause...but, to think that the increased focus on trophy hunting and the associated economical impacts trophy hunting is having on the sport is not having a negative effect is naive. I can think of numerous other factors leading to decreases in hunter recruitment including: 1) Demographics 2) increases in alternative recreational opportunities 3) Gas prices 4) Time obligations associated with family--especially the increased deterioration of the family unit 5) complex hunting regulations 6) Decreased opportunity associated with access to public land 7) As you stated, a decrease in hunting mentors/teachers 8)Possibly even lack of promotion.

You state that apathy is the leading cause of the decline...I say apathy has been around longer than hunting laws. I don't think the amount of apathy has increased over the past 20 years...in fact, I think the amount of apathy has decreased. Overall, I would say hunters are becoming more and more active in management. As proof, look at when Utah first started giving hunters a voice...when did the RAC process begin? When did Utah first start allowing hunters this opportunity to be a part of the rule making process? But, hunter numbers are still declining.

The problem, as I see it though, is that most factors are completely out of my control. I cannot control gas prices, or the numbers of single parent families, or the amount of time kids spend on video games, or the demographics associated with growth in my community, or the increasing amount of land off limits to the public...BUT, I can have an effect on regulations and rules that govern wildlife.

3) Teddy Roosevelt seems almost prophetic to me when he warns: "The professional market hunter who kills game for the hide or for the feathers or for the meat or to sell antlers and other trophies;...and the rich who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own exertions--these are teh men who are the real enemies of game." Why? I think evidence is all around us...look at the high-fence game farms, the CWMUs that sell tags for thousands of dollars, the illegal poaching and selling of trophy animals, and high-priced conservation tags. What do all these things have in common? They all give hunting rights to the rich and take away hunting rights from the poor...where are we headed?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,174 Posts
I disagree with points 1,2, and 3. Nuff said. I won't go round and round with you. it accomplishes NOTHING. Have fun trashing some of your fellow sportsmen. :?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,174 Posts
wyoming2utah said:
proutdoors said:
Have fun trashing some of your fellow sportsmen. :?
The 13%...right?
I thought you were all about 'looking out for ALL hunters'. Guess not, only those that hold to your line of thinking, the rest be damned! True sportsman/conservationist! :roll: Atta boy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,017 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
proutdoors said:
I thought you were all about 'looking out for ALL hunters'. Guess not, only those that hold to your line of thinking, the rest be damned! True sportsman/conservationist! :roll: Atta boy.
:roll:.... :roll: At least the rest in my case is only 13%....in your case it is the 87%!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,174 Posts
Nice try Twister. Saying untrue things several times doesn't make them any less untrue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,221 Posts
Regulations would be in place making it more difficult for the average person to obtain a tag regardless.

Like packout said, trophy hunting is just one other thing that gets to be considered when regulations are made. I would venture to say that encroachment, population boom and human stupidity in the form of a lack of self control and ethics have contributed to the decline of hunter numbers. (I don't see many leftover tags each year, so it's not due to a lack of desire.)

So, how does the rest of the state feel about the distribution of opportunity vs. quality? You make it sound like trophy hunting is the only responsible entity. What's with the constant omissions to enhance and fit your story?
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top