When hunters and anglers in America's history realized that overhunting and lack of wilderness protection were causing the extinction of species and dwindling natural resources, they acted. Hunters across America gathered together to discuss what could be done. Out of those meetings, the basis of American conservation was born.
Are you looking for ways to support conservation around you? Here are the top five ways you can do just that!
1. Fund conservation through hunting and fishing
Hunters and anglers form the backbone of wildlife conservation. Why? Not only are they the ones who initiated the discussions about conservation, but they are also the ones who acted.
They knew they had to fund the conservation they wanted to happen somehow. Without bringing in funds, there would be no way to buy land for creating nature preserves, rehabilitating the land to create suitable habitats, or otherwise fund conservation. With that in mind, they lobbied Congress to put a tax on hunting and fishing supplies. Currently, it generates over a billion dollars every year to be put towards wildlife conservation.
When you put the money from these taxes and the license fees from hunting and fishing tags together, it makes up the majority of the U.S.'s wildlife funding. Without this funding, there would be a very different level of conservation in the United States of America.
2. Buy a duck stamp
The Federal Duck Stamp, created in 1934 by President Roosevelt, is a surefire way of conserving bird and duck habitat. For every dollar you spend on a Federal Duck Stamp, 98 cents goes directly to "acquire and protect" wetland habitats and other related conservation efforts.
Most states require that you purchase a federal and state Duck Stamp before you go hunting. But before you think its only a hunter thing, a Federal Duck Stamp can be shown in place of an entry fee to any of the national wildlife refuges. Plus, with different designs every year, they are also considered a collector's item.
3. Abide by the seven tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
When the hunters and anglers of the 1800s were meeting over how to conserve American wildlife, they knew they would need a philosophy to guide their actions and the actions of future hunters and anglers. From this conversation, they came up with the idea that wildlife belongs to everyone and that it is an international resource, creating the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. This philosophy still guides how the United States and Canada approach conservation today.
This model has seven basic tenants. Brent Lawrence, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer, explains each tenant very well:
Wildlife as Public Trust Resources: Natural resources and wildlife on public lands are managed by government agencies to ensure that current and future generations always have wildlife and wild places to enjoy.
Prohibition on Commerce of Dead Wildlife: Commercial hunting and the sale of wildlife is prohibited to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations. The Lacey Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold.
Rule of Law: Laws and regulations developed by the people and enforced by state and federal agencies will guide the proper use of wildlife resources.
Opportunity for All: Every citizen has an opportunity, under the law, to hunt and fish in the United States and Canada. This differs from many other countries, where only landowners and the wealthy can afford to participate.
Wildlife Should Only be Killed for a Legitimate Purpose: Individuals may legally kill certain wild animals under strict guidelines for food and fur, self-defense and property protection. Laws prohibit the casual killing of wildlife merely for antlers, horns or feathers or the wanton waste of game meat.
Wildlife as an International Resource: Because wildlife and fish freely migrate across boundaries between states, provinces, and countries, they are considered an international resource.
Scientific Management of Wildlife: The best science available will be used as a base for informed decision-making in wildlife management. It's important to note that management objectives are developed to support the species, not individual animals.
This philosophy guides decisions about how many hunting permits to sell, when different species can be hunted, and how to support conservation. As you hunt or fish, you are taking part in a tradition that preserves wildlife for generations to come.
4. Introduce someone else to hunting or fishing
What better way to support conservation and wildlife than by helping someone else get into it? Not only are you promoting the love of the outdoors, but their gear, licenses and Federal Duck Stamps will help fund even more conservation across North America.
How can you invite someone into the sport? Here are a few easy ways:
● Invite them to join you for a morning fishing or in the deer stand
● Bring them delicious wild meat
● Take them to the range and show them how to use their gear
● Help them buy the best fishing rod or hunting gear
● Introduce them to your wilderness friends, so they have an outdoor community
● Answer their questions about how hunting and fishing protect and conserve the beautiful world they see around them
5. Enjoy the outdoors
Why do hunting and fishing create conservation? Because, as those who spend our days outdoors and in nature, we know its worth—and we are willing to fight for it.
Nothing makes you want to protect the wilderness quite as much as, well, being outside. Experiencing the fresh air, watching the deer walk past, hearing the river bubbling by—it all instills the love of the outdoors.
While you're out there, remember to respect the land. Pack out your trash and other peoples' trash that you may find along the way. Don't stray into habitat restoration areas. Avoid bringing invasive plant or animal species into new areas.
As you spend time hunting and fishing, enjoy knowing that you are helping to preserve the wilderness you see around you and protect it for the hunters and anglers that will come after you.