November 01, 2014
Sure, we've crabbed an awful lot about outdoors management failures over a half century. But let's also remember the victories, and take note of an ever-growing conservation mindset.
You most likely have taken part in the move to manage wildlife for sustainable use and basically non-profit purposes. Many wildlife leaders have joined this newthink.
Now, we're especially impressed by outdoors folks showing more and more interest in nurturing the habitat.
Editor Jeff Weakley loaned me these helpful words, tagged "In Good Company."
Let Jeff tell it:
Fall is in the air. The Florida outdoorsman can say the same for fast-flying ducks and high-leaping sailfish. What, besides seasons, do these two share in common? The abiding stewardship of those who would pursue them with rod and gun for the sake of personal fulfillment, rather than profit.
In this month's “On the Conservation Front,” John Hitchcock, a board member of United Waterfowlers – Florida, reviews the genesis of modern wildlife conservation, focusing on the contributions of late 19th and early 20th century hunter/thinkers such as George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold.
The look back is timely, as Florida duck hunters take to our marshes and lakes later this month for what is expected to be another sky-darkening migration of many waterfowl species. The elimination of market hunting and the establishment of National Wildlife Refuges, nearly a century in our wake, were vital to the preservation of ducks and geese.
In more recent years, many of these birds, such as blue-winged teal, are beneficiaries of habitat improvements in northern nesting areas funded in large part by the contributions of hunters. Some, like the wood duck, are helped by work right here in the Sunshine State, as Hitchcock's photographs illustrate.
It's not hard to see the connection with saltwater gamefish such as sailfish. Artificial reef projects, such as the recently completed CCA Goggle-Eye reef off Boynton Inlet, in Palm Beach County, play an important role in promoting fish stocks.
The CCA and Florida Sportsman pushed hard to do away with unsustainable market fishing for red drum, sailfish and many other vulnerable species. Legislative and legal work of this kind is still vital on many fronts.
When a duck hunter offers his time to assemble nest boxes, or a fisherman contributes to an artificial reef campaign, he is following in the footsteps of a long line of sportsman conservationists. He is in good company.
- Karl Wickstrom