As outdoorsmen and women living in the US, we enjoy some of the greatest hunting, fishing, shooting, and other outdoor opportunities to be found anywhere on the planet.
Most outdoors folks would fall into the conservationist category rather than a preservationist. Meaning that if you wisely use the resource, you are a conservationist. As such, we have an obligation to follow game laws, conserve habitat, and contribute to enhancements that give back to wildlife and wild places.
Support Conservation Efforts if You Hunt or Fish
Not since the days of market hunting, the non-existence of game laws, and the expansion west have we seen such a threat to wildlife and wild places as we see today, and not just nationally but globally.
This is not to say that natural resource conservation efforts through state game and fish agencies, federal agencies, and private efforts have not had major success stories when it comes to conservation efforts. They have. All across the globe, there are huge efforts underway to conserve wild places and all species of wildlife living within those places.
What is the Problem?
In essence, we are.
As the human population expands, there is an ever-increasing demand for resources. This means more timber, more energy, more water, and more space to cultivate and grow food, build houses, and fuel cars for an ever-growing human population.
What does Wildlife Require to Flourish?
The same things we need: food, water, shelter, and space.
In one of his recent stunning documentary films, A Life on Our Planet, David Attenborough describes the threat to wild places and species today with a graphic video.
It boils down to one fact, the loss of biodiversity caused by human influence. I agree.
What to Do?
Find a cause and support it.
Get involved using your personal resources, your time, and your money.
Do not get me wrong, as an outdoorsman, I believe in wise use or conservation. Hunting, fishing, and other consumptive uses of natural resources have a place and are viable management tools within legal parameters.
Where to Start?
Just about any direction, you turn there is a need. Start with your state conservation agencies. All have volunteer programs that work directly with habitat restoration projects.
Most federal natural resource agencies such as the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and others have similar programs. They often join forces with state agencies regarding conservation projects where volunteers can get involved.
Look to private organizations like:
- Ducks Unlimited
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Trout Unlimited
- Pheasants Forever
- National Wild Turkey Foundation
- Mule Deer Foundation
Those groups are just a mere drop in the bucket.
Conservation Causes Related to Hunting and Fishing
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest threats to wildlife and its habitat today:
Illegal Trafficking of Wildlife/Poaching
Look beyond our borders. Do you have dreams of visiting or hunting Africa?
One of the greatest threats to wildlife in Africa and worldwide today is poaching. Illegal trafficking of wildlife now stands as one of the world’s top criminal enterprises. The loss of wild elephant and rhino populations in Africa due to poaching simply for ivory and horn is staggering. This is due to the demand for these products via Asian markets.
Support conservation groups such as Dallas Safari Club and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). IAPF was founded by Damien Mander, an ex-Australian special forces operator during the Iraq war. While I do not agree entirely with every concept IAPF stands on, I do agree, as I am sure you would too, that the poaching of elephants and rhinos today for ivory and horn is a travesty of epic proportions.
Of course, the illegal trade of ivory and rhino horn is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to real threats caused by poaching. These illegal activities could lead to the possible extinction of an entire species.
Loss of Habitat
Without a doubt, loss of habitat or the fragmentation of quality habitat is a major threat to all wildlife today. While some wild species can and do thrive in urban areas, this also leads to conflict between humans and wildlife. In the end, wildlife is usually the loser.
Aside from the impact on wild animals, the long-term effects on the global human populations can and will be catastrophic when considering mass deforestation. Forests are critical to the planet’s health from a biodiversity standpoint and from the absorption of carbon and the production of oxygen they provide.
Just look at the continued destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest today. It is alarming and concerning.
Believe it or not, there is an ongoing change in our climate.
The climate has changed for millions of years, some say. True, but the human population was not the same thousands of years ago as it is today. Long-term impacts of climate change are hard to measure, but it goes without saying that it is probably not good.
At some level, there may be a point of no return.
No one likes to see trash heaps in wild places. And pollution does not affect wildlands exclusively.
The negative impacts to streams, lakes, rivers and oceans worldwide from pollution are highly concerning and particularly damaging to the world’s water systems. Oceans are the world’s largest habitat and one of its most critical. It also happens to be one of the most abused ecosystems and is taken for granted when it comes to pollution. We cannot tolerate this any longer.
As outdoors enthusiasts, we all need to be willing to take an extra step or two to give back to what has given us so much. Those wild places we go to enjoy in the pursuit of game and fish, or just to hike a trail, are in reality, critical to our existence.
Find a cause and get involved. Wild places need to remain wild. Wildlife needs those wild places to survive. We all do.