Saturday, September 17
This morning is the beginning of the Youth Hunt in Utah...and it made me think of a few things I'd like to talk about: hunting and birding. Many times in past and present - these two pasttimes have been at odds here and there - and I understand a bit of that. BUT . . . as a birder myself, I also understand that without hunting and fishing groups at the community level and at the national level (like Ducks Unlimited) much of our waterfowl habitat across this country would already have disappeared into development or farmland. Avid hunters and sportsmen have always been a strong voice for conservation and rehabilitation of wetland habitat. And, let's not forget, hunting can serve some very essential biological goals. By keeping populations down on species such as Canada geese, hunting helps prevent overpopulation and the spread of disease. It also keeps biodiversity rich and maintains food and habitat for smaller or rarer species.
I've talked to several birder friends in the past and many have said something like..."Ugh, it's hunting season . . . I don't want to go birding as I won't see anything." I also do not neccessarily agree with this. Birds that may just be hiding or feeding are now stirred up and circling or flying to find a resting and feeding area that IS closed to hunting. (Which, 70% of the Refuge is. Only 30% is open to hunting for just the short few months the season is open.) True - it is always a bit unsettling to hear gunshots if you're not prepared.
Another HUGE pro of partnerships with hunting organizations and hunters in the U.S. is the AMAZING Federal Duck Stamp program www.fws.gov/duckstamps/ All hunters need to purchase one of these amazing stamps before they can hunt. AND - I strongly urge all birders to do so as well. I like to give them as gifts, and here is why. They are BY FAR the most effective tool to wetland conservation ever created. 98cents on every dollar (14.70 from every $15 stamp) goes DIRECTLY to the purchase and conservation of wetlands for migratory birds and waterfowl. I know THIS Refuge would not be here without this program...and many of our amazing WMA's in the prairie pothole regions exist only because the Duck Stamp program was able to preserve them.
So, my birding friends, I hope you all enjoy the fall migratory season and are looking forward to LOTS of waterfowl as I am. And, when you hear the start of the hunting season "popping" outside in the distance . . . remember that each one of those hunters HAD to pay $14.70 to save our amazing wetland habitats.