Sportsmen Taking Charge of Predator Problems
If there’s one thing that outdoors men and outdoors women have learned from being forced to live with wolves, it’s that the citizens of the United States sure cannot put much trust in what advocacy groups or organizations call themselves these days. Most who enjoy an outdoor lifestyle have grown up with organizations like the National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation – names that clearly say what these organizations are pretty much all about. These and a number of other sportsman-based organizations have been there to represent sportsmen issues, threats against hunting and fishing, or the rights of U.S. firearm owners. Quite a few are “roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty” conservation organizations which have done much to preserve and expand wildlife and fisheries habitat in this country.
Unfortunately, there are also dozens of organizations in existence today which vehemently oppose consumptive outdoor sports, namely harvesting wild game and fish for the table. Likewise, a very large number of these organizations are dead set to eliminate the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees Americans the “Right to keep and bear arms.” And for some groups the idea of preserving wildlife habitat is to eliminate or severely restrict human use of the land, especially publicly owned lands such as National Forests and the open range land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. This includes halting multiple use of lands where a large percentage of the lumber used to build our homes is grown, and where much of the beef we consume is raised. Things that so-called “environmental” organizations and groups feel are “un-natural”.
So, who are these groups, and what’s so wrong about what they call themselves?
First, let’s start with the Defenders of Wildlife. During these times, this organization is one of the biggest enemies to outdoor sports. With a name like that, one would assume that they are there to fight threats to any wildlife species. But are they? Sportsmen in the know don’t think so. This organization has been one of the more aggressive advocacy groups for the uncontrolled expansion of wolf populations and expanded wolf range in the Lower 48 states. When there is a federal lawsuit to halt wolf control hunts, Defenders of Wildlife is commonly first in line to be listed as a plaintiff. Likewise, this group has been a major player in preventing management hunts for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area and in other parts of western Montana – where populations of the big and aggressive predators now number more then 600. One MT FWP study shows around 900, with overall densities of the bears in the Northern Rockies on par with all of western Canada and all of Alaska – where there are a combined total of 40,000 to 50,000 grizzlies.
Another organization which seems to feel it has a dog in the fight to relinquish America’s wildlife resources completely over to predators is the Center for Biological Diversity. This is yet another very questionable “environmental” group, one that recently proclaimed tens of thousands of wolves must be restored to this country, allowing these apex predators to roam freely from coast to coast. Where wolf numbers are already six to ten times greater than the recovered population goals that were established back in the early 1990s, these predators have nearly destroyed the elk, moose, deer and other big game populations that were at record levels before wolves were dumped back into those once wildlife rich ecosystems. Turned over to the ravages of a killing machine like the gray wolf, all of America’s wildlife could be in jeopardy. The goals of the Center for Biological Diversity are far from insuring an abundant and diverse wildlife population. This is another organization which is always quick to jump in and support any lawsuits which fight efforts to control wolf numbers.
Many sportsmen now realize that these two organizations are extremely anti-hunting, and their true intentions are to see the role of the big game hunter to manage wildlife populations replaced by packs of wolves in every state in the Continental United States. And these two groups are not alone. Their allies in the war against the sportsmen of this country are almost always listed in the “Plaintiff:” field any time the environmentalists intervene during wolf delisting legal proceedings. These organizations also generally include Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and the Wildlands Project.
“Sportsmen should ensure they never send a single dollar to these organizations…and likewise should convince friends and their extended families to never support these groups. No matter how great intending their names may sound, they all pretty much share the same agenda – and that is to put an end to the role sportsmen have played in conservation. And that role has also provided just about every single dollar ever spent on real conservation. These groups are, for the most part, simply into their causes for the money. Not one of them has ever financed a real conservation project…but the top executives with each annually cart home $300,000 to $400,000, while a bevy of regional directors and vice-presidents are handsomely paid $100,000 to $200,000. For these organizations, it’s all about the money!” states Toby Bridges, founder of LOBO WATCH.
When looking for conservation organizations to support, those who hunt, fish, hike, camp, and just like to see an abundant variety of wildlife should forget about the extreme pro-wolf groups just detailed. Collectively, the efforts of these 13 organizations, under the disguise as environmental groups, are rapidly destroying the past 75 to 100 years of wildlife conservation efforts in America. These groups have stalled management of major predators like the wolf and grizzly bear. And by implanting pro-predator biologists into our state and federal wildlife agencies, these groups have seriously undermined the ability of those agencies to successfully manage any wildlife. Thanks to these extreme environmentalists, we now have close to 10,000 wolves in the Lower U.S. – and each one of those wolves will kill and consume 25 to 30 big game animals each and every year. Plus, those same wolves kill just about as much wildlife for the pure pleasure of killing. Altogether, this country is now losing 500,000 or more deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn and other big game to wolves. And as the grizzly population continues to grow, the big bears also put an ever increasing bite into big game populations.
Somewhere in between the extreme anti-hunting groups already identified and true sportsman-based organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or Pheasants Forever are a number of organizations that tend to ride the fence when it comes to hunting, or issues which adversely affect hunting. The National Wildlife Federation is one such group.
This organization’s website shares a great deal on hunting related topics, but an in depth search will also find this statement…”NWF does not “support” hunting, we support people who also hunt.” The big issue this organization seems most concerned with is Global Warming, which has become the “in” issue with most environmental organizations these days. What these groups tend to forget is that the sportsmen of this country were “environmentalists” long before their organizations were ever even thought about. And the sportsmen of this country are the ones who funded the establishment of our state wildlife agencies, paid for projects that brought wildlife back from the brink to record levels, and which also formed and manned wildlife conservation groups that actually got out and did much of the work that improved habitat. Today’s groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, tend to do a lot more talking, and a lot less of getting their hands dirty.
While NWF admits they do not support hunting, they do support issues which negatively affect hunting.
On their website they boast, “As the nation’s leading advocate for grizzly bears and wolves, NWF has created win-win situations for wildlife and local ranchers. By buying and retiring grazing allotments in prime bear and wolf habitats around Yellowstone, NWF has set aside 300,000 acres of conflict-free zones while giving ranchers new grazing lands away from these predators.”
Despite the NWF acknowledgment of hunting as an effective wildlife management tool, this is still an extreme pro-wolf organization. And right now, the wolf is the biggest threat to big game populations in the Northern Rockies and in the Upper Midwest – not Global Warming. In the past, NWF has worked hand in hand with some of hunting’s worst enemies to file some pretty frivolous lawsuits, and has pushed for a nationwide ban against lead shot. As long as the National Wildlife Federation continues to forsake the health of America’s big game herds to openly support growing wolf numbers, the sportsmen of this country would be well advised to send their donations to and become members of efforts which clearly see the need for tight control of major predators – namely, the wolf.
More and more, sportsmen in Montana now commonly refer to the Montana Wildlife Federation as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Like most all state affiliates of the National Wildlife Federation, this state organization has strongly opposed legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives which would remove the gray wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. These bills, S.3919 and H.R.6028, would remove wolves from federal protection – and management of wolves would be turned over to state wildlife agencies in all states. Despite the claims of NWF, not all Americans want wolves roaming their backyards, near where they live and where their kids play, or destroying wildlife populations in their favorite wild places. NWF state affiliates in Idaho and Wyoming also tend to favor wolf management plans which would give wolves free rein to expand their range and numbers – which is detrimental to maintaining healthy and renewable levels of big game.
The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates have been strong supporters of adding and enlarging National public land areas, which on the surface may sound like not such a bad idea, especially to those outdoor oriented people who live on a postage stamp sized piece of property in a city. Unfortunately, when lands are added to or used to establish a new National Park or National Monument, many outdoor activities are suddenly halted. In the words of the U.S. Department of the Interior, “Hunting, mining, and consumptive activities like logging and grazing are not authorized.”
One great example is the proposed expansion of the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument.
This 377,000 acre National Monument was created in 2001 by President Clinton. The plan is to add several million additional acres, extending the monument into several other states. According to the folks at Montana Wildlife Federation, the expansion would provide visitors, “…open spaces, quiet areas, wilderness experiences and sustainable biological values.” Unfortunately, it would shut hunters out as well, even though it has been their dollars which have been spent to build the wildlife resources there, and everywhere else in this country.
When one takes the time to study the National Wildlife Federation, its direction and the direction of its state affiliates, their goals closely match the goals of the so-called Wildlands Project. This pipe dream of extreme environmental groups would turn basically 50-percent of the United States into “wilderness” or “wild areas”, with wild corridors connecting these areas. Their end goal is to drastically reduce or eliminate human use of the land. And for sportsmen, that would mean the end to hunting and very likely fishing, along with many other outdoor sports.
Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, says, “I won’t forget the time where there was a bill before the Montana Legislature to give county commissioners the authority to ban the discharge of firearms in any or all parts of a county. Of course, we opposed the bill…and it died. However, the Montana Wildlife Federation testified in support of the bill.”
Hunters and fishermen are the original conservationists of this country. Had it not been for their financial support, through license sales and the voluntary excise taxes collected on hunting and fishing gear through the Pitman-Robertson Act, early wildlife conservation efforts may have never gotten underway – not in time to save many quickly disappearing wildlife species. When donating to or joining any group which proclaims to be concerned about wildlife, sportsmen should take the time to understand exactly what these groups really are all about. Many do absolutely nothing for wildlife, other than to keep wildlife issues tied up in court – and right now their primary issue is to keep wolves under the protection of the ESA. The longer that protection continues, the more elk, moose, deer and other big game will be lost to these voracious predators.
Those who shoot and hunt cannot go wrong by supporting the state shooting organizations where they live, like the Montana Shooting Sports Association. Those who primarily fish, camp, hike or just enjoy seeing an abundance of wildlife should probably look at becoming an active member of “hands on” groups like Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, or Idaho for Wildlife, or any other recognized sportsman-based fish and wildlife organization. If you are concerned about the plight of elk where wolves have destroyed herds by as much as 60- to 80-percent, support groups like the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd…or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. These and many other state, regional and national organizations are actively fighting for the right to hunt and fish, and to insure that our wildlife resources remain healthy.
No matter which organization or organizations you choose to join or support, always take the time to fully research what their true mission may be, and where they spend their money. Just because their name may include words like “wildlife” does not mean they have your best interests in mind or at heart. Many of these groups have learned to milk wildlife minded followers of thousands of dollars – and our justice system of millions of dollars by scamming the Equal Access to Justice Act. But when it gets down to what they spend on wildlife conservation at the ground level, most invest very little.
Those who neither hunt or fish, and who simply enjoy seeing a diverse variety of wildlife, need to support efforts which improve wildlife and wetlands habitat. Last year, groups like Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and other hunter-based groups collectively spent hundreds of millions of non-tax dollars to improve habitat, which also supports even more non-game species, such as song birds, turtles and blue herons. On top of that, the sportsmen of this country provided more than $700-million in excise taxes that were earmarked for the same purpose. How much money do you figure Defenders of Wildlife, or the Sierra Club, or the Humane Society of the United States spent to actually improve where our wildlife lives and feeds?
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