Article Last Updated: 09/04/2007 10:54:03 PM MDT
It's not often that an outdoor column is spawned by the editorial pages, particularly where it involves a letter to the editor.
In this case, inspiration came in response to last week's musings of a partially misguided soul named Marcy Anne Roeder of Nederland. Ms. Roeder kicked off squarely enough, defending the contributions of nonconsuming watchers to the welfare of wildlife.
Not satisfied, she then wandered onto the shaky ground that so often swallows the logic of those who harbor - overtly or not - resentment toward hunting and fishing.
"I don't contribute to Ducks Unlimited or the National Wildlife Federation, which work primarily to expand populations of 'game' animals that hunters like to kill."
Then the earth really begins to tremble.
"I spend weekends maintaining hiking trails and improving animal habitat (which includes taking down unsightly deer platforms and duck blinds and removing animal carcasses that hunters leave in the woods)."
Oh, my. What a woman. As one who wanders the woods regularly both in and out of hunting season, I can't recall finding an animal carcass that hadn't been well-masticated by a predator, most likely a mountain lion. How Ms. Roeder determines that all these carcasses she removes (she also must be exceptionally strong) have been "left by hunters" is beyond me.
Such shallow vitriol has become the misinformed mantra of those who allow a hatred of hunting to cloud the realities of the management of wildlife and who truly contributes most to its welfare.
Roeder's disdainful mention of Ducks Unlimited is particularly worthy of rebuttal. Coincidentally, her letter came in concert with a salute to the wetlands conservation organization on the front page of USA Today.
In conjunction with its 25th anniversary, the newspaper recognizes what it determines to be the nation's top 25 charities. Not incidentally, Ducks Unlimited is the first mentioned - scarcely surprising when one considers that it converts an astonishing 86 percent of contributions to actual on-the-ground wetlands restoration. DU projects benefit not only the waterfowl that hunter/contributors pursue, but hundreds of other nongame wildlife species.
So it is with all other hunting and fishing conservation organizations: Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation and Pheasants Forever, to name a few. Members collectively contribute hundreds of millions of dollars that not only directly preserve habitat, but finance effective campaigns against destructive development.
But, alas, they never seem to find the money or time to remove animal carcasses.
Those who harbor hatred for hunting make much of their eagerness to contribute to wildlife. Statistics don't bear this out. For example, the inauguration of the Colorado Habitat Stamp last year was hailed as an opportunity for wildlife watchers and the like to subscribe to various Division of Wildlife environmental initiatives.
During 2006, the sale of 665,608 stamps netted almost $3.4 million. Nonlicense buyers - those like Ms. Roeder - purchased just 4,902 stamps and spent $34,115, a smidgen over 1 percent of the total. It appears the nonlicense percentage will increase slightly in 2007, but scarcely enough to reflect this claim of undying dedication to wildlife.
Maybe this reluctance is because none of the money will be spent to tear down duck blinds.