Conservation VS Preservation

If you spend much time on Facebook, you will see many videos of people rescuing animals. A recent one shows a couple in a boat picking a hawk out of the water with a paddle and easing it toward the bank where it flies off. Many show divers cutting ropes from turtles and even whales.

Several videos show people helping bucks that have gotten their antlers tangled together while fighting. One shows a man carefully cutting a small tree to free a big buck with his antlers wedged around it, probably from rubbing it in the fall.

What is it in us that makes people want to take care of animals? Most of us have that desire to help when we see injured animals. Although we may hunt the same animals and catch fish to eat, we want to do it when legal, and in a sporting manner.

Kids as well as adults have this desire, even more so. Growing up there were many times I found baby birds that had fallen from their nests, doomed to die on the ground. It took only a couple of times putting them back in the nest, only to find them dead on the ground later, to realize the mother bird would push them back out, rejecting them probably because of the human smell.

One time while cutting our field with a rotary mower I saw a rabbit run ahead of me. I stopped and looked in the grass and found her nest, with several small rabbits in it. I carefully marked it and made sure to cut around it, leaving a small island of refuge for them.

That fall we were hunting that same field and killed a couple of rabbits. I remember thinking they may have been some of the same ones I avoided killing with the mower the past spring. But I felt no guilt killing, cleaning and eating them. That is the way of nature, predators killing and eating prey. But it is only human compassion that makes us want to protect the same animals at other times.

Dearing Branch on our property had some small bream and catfish in it. During dry summers it would dry up, being reduced to a few deep pools where all the fish went for refuge from the receding water. Many times, we would get the fish out of those pools, carry them to the house and put them in wash tubs with hoses keeping them full of water.

A few times we were able to keep some of them alive until the branch filled from rains. We would then take the survivors back to the branch and release them. But when the branch was full we would fish for them and eat any we caught.

The same attitude about protecting the resource is common among hunters and fishermen. We are the real conservationists. We believe in using our resources while protecting it. Taking some fish and game to eat does not harm the population.

Some “tree huggers’” the folks that want to totally protect everything in the environment without any human interference or change, never learned the ways of nature. They demand we leave deer alone and not hunt them. But that does not work.

There are almost no deer predators, other than humans, left in nature. Many examples, like Red Top
Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona, show the facility of that approach. Deer got so overpopulated at Red Top Mountain that they ate all available food. Even the bark was stripped from young trees as high as the deer could reach.

Deer there were starving to death. Some do-gooders wanted to feed them. Others suggested giving them birth control to control he overpopulation. But the Department of Natural Resources realized the cost and inefficiency of both of those approaches, so they opened the park to archery hunting.

Within a few years the problem was solved, at no cost. Not only did hunters take enough deer legally to reduce the population to sustainable levels, they got food for their families. That is a much better solution for deer and people than the other silly suggestions.

Also on Facebook, you will see condemnation of trophy hunters that go to Africa to take game. The do-gooders want those hunters stopped, even suggesting killing them. The taking of Cecil the Lion is a good example. They are out of touch with reality.

Those hunters are strictly controlled, taking only specified animals. They spend a lot of money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, for their trip. That money goes to local governments and much of it is used to control poachers, local folks that kill animals for monetary gain, with no though to long term effects. They often decimate animal populations to dangerously low levels.

Not only do local governments use money from hunters to protect animal populations, any animals killed are eaten by local people, feeding them. And the money hunters spend on local supplies help those same people.

In tournaments strict rules protect bass. Any fisherman bringing in a dead bass is penalized and catch and release is almost a religion among bass fishermen. After a tournament, bass weighed in are released back into the lake, with big tournaments going to the trouble of using boats with holding tanks to release fish all over the lake rather than concentrating them in one area.

Hunters and fishermen want to protect but use resources. Our license fees go to state agencies that are tasked with that goal. And money spent on fishing and hunting supplies have a special tax that is used for protecting resources.

Don’t condemn us. Join us in helping the natural environment while enjoying the products of it.

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