A little love for hunters in the Washington Post

I was pleasantly surprised to see a story explaining the important role hunting plays in conservation in an unexpected place. The Washington Post ran a story earlier this month that points out the contributions hunters make to wildlife and wild places.

Newspapers in rural areas are constantly running stories about hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. They give advice about where to go or how to improve your outdoor skills; they often print “brag boards” to celebrate successes in the field; and they explain the importance of a connection to nature.

Most of us who hunt and fish already know that hunting and fishing licenses pay for the bulk of conservation of all wildlife species, not just those we hunt and fish for.

But people who live in the big cities, where hunting and fishing aren’t as common, don’t always know that the license fees play such a big role in conservation.

The biggest media companies in the country very seldom say anything good about hunting and fishing. But the Washington Post has taken notice and ran a story earlier this month that pointed out the good hunters do for conservation. Granted, it focuses on the fact that fewer people are hunting, and as a result, conservation funds are declining. And it notes that it might be time to come up with a new source of funding for conservation.

I disagree. The North American Model of Wildlife Management has worked well for 100 years. What we need is not new sources of revenue, but a renewed interest in the outdoors. We need to get people off the couch and out into the field, not only to buy licenses, but also to develop that bond with the natural world. We need people to hunt to keep wildlife populations healthy. We need hunter education programs to help people learn firearm safety.

We don’t need new funding models. We just need more hunters.

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