When hunters and environmentalists speak about each other, it is through gritted teeth. Hunters feel like environmentalists are overstepping their boundaries and threatening their livelihood with conservation acts. And environmentalists think of hunters as ATV-driving, gun-wielding neanderthals. It is time to overcome these dated and cruel stereotypes.
Have you heard the saying that two heads are better than one? Unbeknownst to some, hunters and environmentalists have been fighting the same fight in many different areas and venues. For example, the money that hunters spend on permits and associated fees directly funds some of America’s most wild and protected areas. And while it may not seem likely, many conservation organizations have numerous hunters on staff. On the other hand, other conservation organizations may not have many members who are hunters.
One conclusion that both groups can agree on is that without proper management and protection, the lands that both communities fight for will be lost forever. Although they may not live the same lifestyles, environmentalists and hunters have the same goals. There are many examples of how environmentalists and hunters can work together to create positive change in our political and social views, here are two.
California Lead Ammo Ban
Environmentalists in California have worked to pass a law banning the use of lead bullets while hunting wild game within the state. This initiative stems off the ban of lead hunting in condor habitats, in hopes of saving the endangered birds. When hunting game animals, stray bullets stay lodged in the ground and trees. The reflection of the lodged bullets appeals to birds, who then eat them and die from lead ingestion.
The lead was poisoning not only the condors, but potentially causing lead poisoning in the families of the hunters that used lead bullets on their hunts. The efforts of both the environmentalists and the hunters in California aided in passing this law, and it couldn’t have been done without the combined efforts of both sets of voices. The ban was expanded to all wildlife in California in 2013. As a hunter, has this ban impacted you? What is your opinion?
Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction
It could be argued that having a healthy wolf population aids in the health of the entire ecosystem in and around Yellowstone National Park, but the wolf reintroduction was a touchy subject for hunters at first, and for some it still is. Wolves hunt elk, moderating their populations, which keeps the willows stable near the river banks, and in turn helps the health of the rivers and creeks and the fish that reside in them. The elk, bear and fish populations that stem from Yellowstone National Park are then made available to hunters in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The environmentalists that took action in reintroducing the wolves claimed to have had hunter’s best interest in mind and value the role that hunters play in game management.