I first have to defend myself from rlown's aspersions that I am no sort of a hunter. After that, I do have an important point to share regarding the value of hunters and environmentalists becoming united in their effort to conserve wildlands.Harlen, I am not trying to put you on the spot, but I am very curious how you see hunting? How it is good or bad or neutral with wildlife management? My personal thinking is that the National Park practice of not allowing limited hunting has contributed to problem bears. I can only compare with what I experience in the Wind Rivers in Wyoming -- LOTs more wildlife, including wolves and grizzlies, yet much LESS people-bear problems, and LOTs more hunting.
WTH Russ? I'll bet I collect and eat more road-killed animals than you gain in a year of your sort of hunting. And I just may "hunt" a wider variety of species off the road-- Wild Pig, Rattlesnake, Turkeys, an old rooster (never again!), Squirrel, Duck, and of course- Deer, at a 2-3 per year average. And (you'll hate this) no fees! Still, you get all the bragging rights for doing your own killing, and I don't suppose your friends turn their noses up when you invite them over for "Breast of Wild Duck in wine sauce." I get a few no-shows to my "Road-Kill BBQ" dinners. One of my buddies says I need to change the name to "'Wild-harvested Game" if I want his wife to come.You're seriously asking harlen about hunting?
Anyhow, back to Wandering Daisy's serious question about hunting in Parks. I recall a statement by one of the foremost wolf biologists, David L. Mech, who said something like:
His point was that the communities where the wolves are dispersing into need to see them as a value, and not just something the government is forcing onto them. Mech also believed that local ranchers, and landowners needed to feel like they could control problem animals themselves.To disallow a hunting season for wolves is detrimental to the conservation of the species.
Of course, this is a very tricky proposition, full of necessary guidelines, but I think we can see the pragmatism is this view. I recently found an interesting corrolary to this perspective in an essay by the naturalist author David Quammen, whom I have a lot of respect for. It is found in his book, Wild Thoughts from Wild Places, and the essay is "Eat of This Flesh."
Quammen is contacted by an experienced hunter, who reminds him that the real threat to Mountain Lions, and other wildlife does not come first from hunting; that unchecked developers, and polluting mining operations (WD?) are much more of a threat. Quammen studies the question, and at least for the Mountain Lion population in the northern Rockies, it seems to be true. The hunter becomes a friend, and he makes the point to Quammen that "One of the biggest impending tradgedies ... in the struggle waged by conservation organizations, is the polarization between the hunting, and non-hunting factions of those groups." This polarization he feels, "divides resources, it divides people, and it wastes time and money". ... and he says, "the developers and the miners and the loggers have gotta be laughing all the way to the bank."
I think there is a lot of good sense in the perspective written above. Now, would I like to see sport hunting, or even subsistence hunting, allowed in the National Parks? I would first say no. But that is because of my personal beliefs and desires. My understanding of hunting has changed over the years, having met some highly principled and passionate hunters, both here and in Alaska. I am certain that for some hunters, their deepest spiritual connection to nature has been found through the hunting and eating of wild animals. So if I could be convinced that hunting could be done safely, and sustainably in the Parks, and that it would truly have a net beneficial ecologic effect, then I would be open to it. Gary Snyder once wrote that the sharing of our bodies back and forth [in the food chain] is perhaps the original, and the real form of communion.