by Cody McLaughlin - Monday, September 21, 2020
For the average non-hunter, it can be a murky world often clouded by the loud and ubiquitous misinformation of anti-hunters. Those against hunting so often want the world to be vegan, hurling epithets like “murderer” at hunters all designed to sidestep hunting’s big picture and scare the average citizen into seeing us as bloodthirsty killers. Meanwhile, despite that sportsmen remain a key tool in the toolbox of wildlife conservation, many of us stay out of the fray rather than actively engage in these debates, missing out on countless opportunities to communicate the truth about hunting and share the role hunters and hunting play in maintaining healthy wildlife populations.
As explained regularly on this website, despite the massive misinformation campaign by deep-pocketed, organized and well-funded anti-hunting extremist organizations, one of our strongest arguments in favor of sportsmen since the time of U.S. President, conservationist and NRA Life member Teddy Roosevelt has been the science behind the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. In addition to being the tool to manage wildlife populations and enhance habitat, sportsmen generously fund conservation through a historic public-private partnership that has stood the test of time for more than a century. For just two examples of hunter-conservationists’ wildlife management success through the NAMWC, look no further than the whitetail deer and wild turkey—two species that were on the brink of extinction but were restored by sportsmen. Now, anti-hunters nationwide are committed to putting an end to this great success story by ending the NAMWC’s reliance on sportsmen as wildlife management’s top funding source.
Look no further than the Center For Biological Diversity (CBD) for the latest in a series of proposals urging us to move away from hunting as a source of conservation funding. This particular plan stemmed from animal rights extremists’ backlash over a recent article in the Journal Science that argued—quite compellingly—that ending the sporting lifestyle would have a massive negative impact on wildlife conservation. The CBD opted to cite responses from anti-hunting scientists to argue for outright hunting bans. Not surprising, few of the current proposals targeting sportsmen do much more than advocate for a ban with a “we’ll think of the replacement when the ban is in effect” attitude. The fact is, there are no real solutions that can replace sportsmen as the most powerful engine in the wildlife conservation funding arena.
Meanwhile, sportsmen and their counterparts in state wildlife agencies continue to expand domestic programs to use sportsmen’s dollars to continue funding an array of wildlife conservation projects. Delaware, for example, just expanded its online offerings to make it easier to purchase hunting licenses and “conservation passes” over the Internet.
For perhaps an even better move, look at the state of Colorado. As NRAHLF.org covered in June, the state recently made it mandatory for those seeking to enter state wildlife areas to first purchase a hunting or fishing license. Of course, the move was later challenged in court by anti-hunting extremists.
So while it is a knee-jerk reaction to stick our heads in the sand or say animal rights extremists would ever be allowed to end our sports entirely, I am here to tell you—as we have seen time and again—that this is exactly what these misinformed and often violent people are trying to do. If every hunter doesn’t start standing up for our rights and standing with the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and other hunter-backed organizations, these groups just might one day succeed.
About the Author
Cody McLaughlin is a noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He works as a GOP consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence and as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance helping to represent the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.
NRA-ILA, the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) and NRA’s American Hunter work 24/7 to make sure American hunters are aware of the escalating attacks on hunters as the hunting community fights the mob mentality that is now a hallmark of the culture war on hunting. Our collective response: Be proud of our mainstream hunting traditions. Condemn death threats and other attacks on hunters at every turn. Explain that poaching is not hunting. And combat the political correctness and dishonesty that animal rights extremists work into every conversation about legal, regulated hunting. Sharing the story of hunters and hunting is the only way non-hunters will learn and understand why we hunt.
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