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  • Jason J. Crighton

Hunting and Conservation

Ahh, fall. It’s fast approaching and will be giving all of us a great reprieve from the heat and humidity. Fall brings with it hoodies, fires, and spiced pumpkin EVERYTHING! It will also be bringing with it a tradition as old as human-kind: Hunting.

Hunting has been around for far longer than anyone cares to admit. According to science, combined with man’s control of fire, it enabled our feeble brains to grow and evolve an ability to accomplish complex tasks and thoughts. Yet, society always seems to be looking to ambush those who partake in the tradition. Refer to the ruckus caused by the British Royal Family’s recent grouse hunt. (The best part is the picture of a grouse who calls the Western U.S. it's home range)

But, why?

Unfortunately, most of the issue comes with ignorance to the importance hunting has in our world. If you could, please put down your fast food burger, store bought fish, or left over restaurant chicken for a second and let me explain.

During our early days as nomads, all humans traverse vast areas gathering what they could and hunting animals for food. The rewards of a successful hunt were enjoyed for days, weeks, and even months (after the discovery of drying and curing meats). But hunting didn’t stop with the advent of agriculture and modern society.

See, the industrial revolution not only advanced society’s capacity for premade goods, it also increased the ease in which success came about in hunting. Little did we realize, but this created a major problem for our wildlife. Society demanded goods produced from wildlife, industry capitalized on this, and the market hunting was born. Soon, once great numbers of animals dwindled to near extinction. Bison, Whitetail Deer, Turkey, and Game Birds were almost wiped off our maps.

Luckily, a few forward thinking men decided to help put a stop to this. These men, such as Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Robert Marshall to name a few, helped create the desire in people to conserve and protect wildlife and wild spaces. These men directly led to the creation of the first “Game Commission” by a state legislator. The Pennsylvania Game Commission was created in 1895.

But, but, why? Why does hunting have to do with conservation? Answer: The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. This model, that has no legal power, contains guiding principles on how to effectively manage our wildlife and wild areas. It contains seven principles, including using hunting as a tool to manage healthy wildlife populations.

The NAMWF has not only brought many species back from near extinction, but it has helped to keep wildlife populations in check as our human population continues to grow. This growth has caused humans to encroach further and further into the bedrooms of wildlife. Left unchecked, or up to “nature,” an increase of human-wildlife conflicts and wildlife suffering from disease would occur.

So why hunt…or at least support others that do? Because they are the, typically, the most conservation minded individuals you will ever talk to. Just ask them, they may explain it to you over some organic venison.

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