Fish & Game supporting wildlife conservation? A shocking change!

This is a fine idea: 10000 Birds is promoting the creation of a federal wildlife conservation stamp. Instead of a stamp supporting duck hunting, how about one that favors conservation and birdwatching?

It’s painless and sensible and sends the message that we want wildlife refuges that preserve species, rather than ones that provide a reservoir of birds to shoot. There’s a petition, go sign it!


  1. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    Fish and Wildlife is another of those federal land agencies with a mission that can be self-contradictory. USF&W — conservation, protection and hunting. NPS — preservation and enjoyment. USFS — enjoyment, preservation and commercial use. Unfortunately, federal land agencies are generally pressured by our politically appointed bosses to err on the side of use rather than preservation and conservation. Just one of many things that makes being a federal lands officer such a joy.

  2. peterh says

    Purchasing a migratory waterfowl stamp does promote conservation. Further, many such stamps are purchased by stamp collectors who have no interest in hunting or conserving waterfowl.

  3. says

    PZ, I hate to break it to you, but hunters and fishers were the driving force behind many of the conservation initiatives in the States. In my own state, most of the megafauana was all but obliterated through market hunting, etc. in the early 1900s, and it was the state’s hunters who had developed enough of an understanding of sustainability and land ethic that put together systems that would allow them to continue the use of wildlife while keeping it around for aesthetic enjoyment for future generations as well. These included rewilding acts (transferring deer and other wildlife into areas that they were removed from), *self-imposed* taxes (including the duck stamp) that would be used to fund key wildlife habitat, etc.

    It may make you uncomfortable, but you need to realize that your image of hunters as people who have careless disregard for wildlife, while true in individual cases, is broadly a strawman. We have one of the most successful conservation stories in the world, and no small part of that story was formed due to the efforts of hunters.

    And, if you’re curious, I’m personally uninterested in hunting.

  4. says

    I do think that conservation measures need to incorporate local cultural, and it’s very true that in general we are seeing a shift from the hunting-based cultures of the past into a paradigm where hunting is less emphasized. I’m fine with that, and the Fish and Wildlife will need to adapt. But, one needs to understand that there are countless hunters and biologists who are deeply in love with the land and wildlife that occupies it, and deeply care about its continued existence.

  5. says

    Following up torbertin’s comments, I’m going to point out some other subtleties to this issue. The first is that we have significantly altered the ecologies of even the larger, wild tracts of land by a) killing off some of the top predators, and b) introducing invasive herbivores. In south Texas, for example, there are no longer any jaguars, but plenty of feral hogs and axis deer (chital). These last can be hunted any time, without bag limit. There’s the interesting question, if one’s sole interest were conservation and preservation, what one would do about these invasives? The truth is they’re here to stay. But also that we now act as the top predators. There’s no returning to how things were two centuries past. At the same time, we do want to preserve as much of the native ecology as possible.

    Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t hunt, but happily eat venison from friends and family who do hunt.

  6. firetree says

    Conservation is crazy and out of balance. I grew up in Northern Minnesota where the wolf population decimated the deer population followed by a period where the deer population makes it dangerous to drive on the highways. A number of year ago I taught school in Zimbabwe where the elephant population were destroying not only their own habitat but the habitat for a large number of other species. The government decided they needed to depopulate; believe it or not, they proposed to kill 17,500 of these magnificent beasts. The Zambezi River is so over populated with crocodiles that tiger fish are almost non existent. I ranched sheep in the Mayan Mountains in Belize where jaguars and ranchers live in a dual of death, big cats verses food animals. It was illegal to kill them but I could trap them. The jaguars I trapped were not wanted because there was no place to put them nor was their a Zoo in Belize or the U.S. that wanted them.

    They could not kill wolves in a move to protect wildlife. They could not kill elephants in a move to to protect them and to destroy the ivory trade. The could not kill crocodiles to protect them so people started farming them to supply a market for their leather. Do you or anyone else think creating a stamp will solve wildlife conservation problems? Give me a break.

  7. says

    Nobody who is promoting this stamp is arguing that hunting (and fishing) does not contribute significantly to wild lands conservation and management. However, there is a very large number of people who do not hunt, but use these wild lands and want to support their management, and do so in various ways. They are not entirely comfortable buying duck stamps, and there is no reason that they have to be made to feel badly about that. But they are more than willing to buy wildlife stamps, and to make shooting ducks (and other things) with cameras as much of a contributor to the overall effort of wild lands acquisition, restoration, and management as shooting them with firearms is now.

  8. says

    Heh, I should note that I actually quite strongly support alternative sources of funding for these things. It would please me to no end if, for example, binoculars, field guides, etc. were taxed to help fund the Fish and Wildlife in addition to hunting license sales, etc. An additional non-game stamp to aid in wildlife habitat acquisition and preservation certainly falls into that category.

    I think that I was mostly reacting to an ongoing theme of PZ’s posts that I felt I should respond to.

  9. Mak, acolyte to Farore says

    Thanks for speaking up, Torbertin. I was getting pretty annoyed at the trend myself, but lack the verbal skills to express it properly. Being treated like we’re all evil wildlife ravagers that need to stay out of conservation when we’re the ones who started the conservation movement in the first place, and are still the primary source of the funding for it, is pretty sore.

    Those duck stamps also support conservation and birdwatching — thousands of species of nongame animals benefit from the land saved from development as well as the few species of ducks that are hunted, as do people who don’t hunt or fish.

  10. yemangycoyote says

    In specific reference to this post…1.) I’d love to see this stamp become a thing (despite my very, very limited use of “snail mail”), but 2.) since most (if not all) of the “game species” shot by hunters in the U.S. are generally abundant and are in very little danger of extinction, characterizing this a choice between “game reservoirs” and “actual conservation” is grossly inaccurate.

    I’ll grant you that fish & game agencies have historically been pre-occupied with game production over broadly applied ecological conservation, but that has started to change in recent years. Even in the upper midwest (bastion of ultra-conservative bullshit that we are), resources are increasingly allotted towards, for example, the conservation and restoration of native grasslands (though there is generally some internal friction on this topic – old attitudes die hard, and it will still be a while before pasques are considered to be nearly as important as pheasants). More over, even when the focus is primarily on game production, there are generally additional benefits to other species. For example, preserving prairie wetlands benefits not only ducks, but also a host of other species that depend on the same habitats. The biggest threats to wildlife conservation in the U.S. (and, for the most part, worldwide) is habitat loss, and in the upper midwest that largely means tile draining wetlands and converting grasslands to cropland. So if you really care about wildlife in your area, you might want to lay off the hunting community* and start concerning yourself with the influence of big agribusiness on our national farm policy.

    *While it’s true that there are good, responsible hunters that care about conservation and the animals they hunt, this isn’t a blanket defense of the hunting community, which contains a considerable minority of various assholes, ranging from the sociopathic “shoot anything that moves” types to the ultra wealthy “pay thousands of dollars to hunt semi-tame animals on a private game ranch” types…hmm…sort of reminds me of another community…just replace the former two categories with “raging misogynistic trolls” and “Ayn Rand worshipping libertarians”.

  11. peterh says

    @ #16:

    The stamp is not used for postage, it’s affixed to the hunting license (rather like a visa on a passport). There have from time to time been regular postage stamps showing various game and non-game bird species.

    Your third paragraph derails the thread.

  12. Ichthyic says

    Also, this stamp would allow pretty drawings of something other than just ducks. Break the hegemony of the ducks!

    besides, ducks weigh the same as witches, so they must be equivalent.

  13. ChasCPeterson says

    wildlife refuges that preserve species, rather than ones that provide a reservoir of birds to shoot

    The more I think about this, the stupider a false dichotomy it gets.
    If anyone would like to actually know something about the US National Wildlife Refuge system before opining about it, they have a pretty good website.