To the Blue Ridge

Hunters Lead the Way in Conservation

As the season of Thanksgiving is upon us, give thanks for your local deer, duck or turkey hunter—even if you aren’t a hunter yourself and have never tasted wild game. They deserve our thanks; since the beginning of the last century, America’s hunters have led the conservation movement and hunting has been the cornerstone and most important conservation development and continues to be the leading contributor to conservation as man enters the 21st Century. Hunting is an exceptional form of sustainable use that has been proven to create conservation stakeholders, to stimulate conservation incentives and generate operating revenue for conservation budgets.

Hunting has incorrectly been accused of being out of date, irrelevant to conservation or an anachronism no longer needed or acceptable. Some state and federal agency personnel have lost sight of the importance of hunting to conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Recent developments in one particular organization, Ducks Unlimited (DU), demonstrate conclusively the relevance and indispensable role of hunters.

Analysis discloses that DU is annually generating more conservation funds than the highly acclaimed Pittman-Robertson Fund! DU is a sportsmen’s nonprofit conservation organization, and P-R is a conservation fund created directly by Congress. DU is funded largely by waterfowl hunters while P-R is funded with excise taxes on all firearms and ammunition. At the turn of the century, DU implemented one of the most visionary conservation plans ever. Its goal was to raise $600 million under HABITAT 2000, more than $150 million additional revenue for conservation each year.

To fully appreciate the enormity of the DU contribution to conservation, just take into account that P-R funds on average are approximately one-fourth of the size of the sum of all state conservation budgets each year. DU has conserved eight million acres of waterfowl habitat and has over 604,000 members. The goal of HABITAT 2000 was to conserve a total of nine million acres and increase its membership to 750,000. They may be the US hunter’s brightest conservation star. That is reflective of the incentive and commitment of American sportsmen to conservation of our natural resources. DU’s contribution provides prospective about the value of having incentives and committed stakeholders like hunters in wildlife conservation.

Yet as powerful as the hunters’ conservation organizations are, hunters are targeted as heinous sociopaths by the even larger, better-funded animal rights groups. It’s important for all animal lovers, whether or not hunters, to note the important distinction between animal welfare groups—many of which own and operate animal shelters, or fund low cost spay/neuter groups—from animal rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). These two groups’ mission is for a meatless society and their leadership, in my opinion, believes a cockroach should have the same rights as a human being. However, they take great pains to conceal this extreme position and in fact, feature heartbreaking photos and exposes of starving, homeless, injured and/or abused animals. Their TV advertising campaigns and mass mailings are meant to tug at your heartstrings so you’ll loosen the purse strings. But the truth of the matter is that your money sent to either group does not help those animals. Despite the Humane in the name, HSUS does not own, operate or contribute to a single animal shelter. And PETA euthanizes a staggering percent of animals it receives. According to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request from the Center for Consumer Freedom, PETA killed nearly 100 percent of the adoptable pets in its care during 2011, mostly cats and dogs. Despite years of public outrage over its euthanasia program, the notorious animal rights group quietly continues killing adoptable animals.

According to records from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, since 1998, a total of 27,751+ pets have died at the hands of PETA workers. “PETA hasn’t slowed down its slaughterhouse operation, even as the group continues to lecture the American public with its phony ‘animal rights’ message,” said Rick Berman, CCF’s Executive Director. “It appears PETA is more concerned with funding its media and advertising antics than finding suitable homes for these dogs and cats.”

I’m not suggesting during the season of Thanksgiving that you forgo any charitable donation to help animals or habitat. Local humane shelters, that are the first to suffer under budget cuts, can always use donations and you can feel good knowing your money will, in fact, be spent on animals in need. And remember, even if you’re not a hunter yourself, we all benefit from the millions of acres of protected lands and waters conserved by their efforts and wallets.

Written by: Julie Reardon

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