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Know the West

We shall overcome


Hal Herring exalts Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) and contends that sportsmen alone should be given the credit for wildlife protection because they paid for wildlife management “through the decades into a variety of revenue streams.” That logic is flawed for two reasons.

Herring glides over the fact that during the last century many Americans contributed towards public-lands creation and/or the costs of maintaining public lands where wildlife live. Historian Carolyn Merchant credits over a million women who between 1900 and 1916 engaged in national efforts for forest conservation, river and harbor cleanup, and bird preservation. Furthermore, citizens pay federal taxes that fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies that conserve species.

Second, while hunters and anglers pay for the lion’s share of Western states’ wildlife budgets, it does not follow that these agencies have well-managed wildlife-conservation plans. Under states’ care, many species (i.e., wolverine, lynx, river otters, prairie dogs, swift and kit foxes, and bison) have been driven to extirpation or even extinction. State wildlife agencies are notoriously biased towards conserving “game” species that generate revenue. State agencies also support destructive management practices that benefit the livestock industry (i.e., in 2006, the Colorado Wildlife Commission approved the “rodenator,” a device designed to blow up prairie dogs in their burrows).

Wildlife-watching tourism has greatly benefited communities around Yellowstone, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and in western Colorado. Wildlife watchers wield economic might that state wildlife agencies have generally failed to harness. Despite Herring’s unsupported assertions that wildlife watchers are late to the species conservation game or are somehow tacitly responsible for the failed re-enactment of the “hugely popular” Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), a careful analysis does not uphold his argument.

Herring argues that in Utah, “wildlife and wildlife habitat were in trouble” before SFW came along. He quotes SFW founder Don Peay, who said that biologists “are full of bullshit” because they make up “convenient lies” such as, oil and gas drilling/exploration harms wildlife. The inconvenient truth is that SFW maniacally promotes trophy hunting — whether ungulate or predator — for themselves, never mind “for the environment.” Herring’s outing of this group of predator haters only steels the steadfastness of their opposition.

Wendy Keefover-Ring
Director, Carnivore Protection Program, Sinapu
Boulder, Colorado