Hunters and fishermen play large role in conservation

Hunters and fishermen play large role in conservation

The Issue: As our communities grow, the need for wildlife management increases.

Our View: Those who hunt and fish have were among the first to recognize the need for conservation.

It’s no secret Illinois has its share of men and women who love the outdoors and all the sporting activities that go with it. Contrary to what many believe, early hunters and fishermen have had a great deal to do with conservation efforts. In fact, sportsmen of this sort where among the first to recognize the need for conservation and scientific wildlife management.

This country’s rapid development and the unregulated use of wildlife was having a profound effect on the future of many species. With President Theodore Roosevelt, a fellow sportsman, behind their efforts, these early conservationists were among the first to lobby against the commercial slaughter of wildlife. They promoted the sustainable use of fish and game and created hunting and fishing licenses. They even supported taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to support state conservation agencies.

Through the efforts of these sportsmen, populations of white-tail deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood duck and many other species began to recover from decades of unregulated exploitation.

Habitat was another main concern. Outdoorsmen were the first to notice the profound effects this country’s rapid development had on many species. Their efforts expanded to include millions of acres of habitat so that lands and waters could be used for the enjoyment of everyone without putting wildlife at risk.

There are many ways in which hunting is a key component in conservation.

Hunting helps balance wildlife populations with what the land can support. It limits crop damage and curtails disease outbreaks.

While the government spends millions to control predators, such as cougars, bears, coyotes and wolves, hunters willingly pay for that opportunity.

Hunting plays a role in highway safety. For every deer hit by a motorist, it is estimated that hunters take six.

With regard to fishing, in many areas, over fishing is a serious problem. Many species of fish are in danger because of a long, unregulated history of overfishing.

Thanks to conservation efforts from those who fish for sport and those who fish to make a living, every fish in every body of water on Earth is regulated.

There are limits in place for everything from the size and number of fish caught to the method used to catch them.

Over 9.2 million pounds of fish are drawn from American waters annually. That makes it a $4.1 billion industry. In order to protect species of fish for both commercial and recreational uses, regulations must be put in place.

This Saturday, Sept. 22, is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September, it was established as a day of thanks to this country’s sportsmen for their role in conservation. The National Hunting and Fishing Day proclamation was signed on May 2, 1972, by President Nixon who said, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”

Whether or not hunting and fishing is our sport or our livelihood, we all benefit from conservation efforts that protect our natural resources.