Should Conservationists Team Up With Sportsmen?

Environmental writer Ted Williams makes a compelling case for why conservationists should collaborate with hunters and fishermen to save species. 

Journalist Ted Williams is both a birder and a hunter. His affinity for each community is apparent in his writing for publications including Fly Rod & Reel, Mother Jones, and Audubon Magazine.  

In a recent blog post for Field & Stream, Williams acknowledges that his readers are firmly divided between two camps: the conservationists and the sportsmen. The split is apparent in his interactions with the varied factions out in the field. 

Williams writes: “I’m walking on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. Why, I wonder, are my fellow surf fishermen giving me one-fingered salutes? Then it dawns on me—I have binoculars around my neck, so I must be a birder. I couldn’t possibly be an angler, too.”

Williams goes on to argue that while the two groups clearly are motivated by separate reasons, each would do well to realize that combined, they would be better equipped to achieve their mutual goal—preserving wilderness. Williams points out some legislative wins that were only the result of collaboration between the two groups—for instance the conservation compliance portion of the Farm Bill. Another promising step that Williams recalls is a coalition called America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation, and Preservation, which has united over a thousand groups behind its attempt to increase federal funding for fish and wildlife. They successfully secured higher funding for the 2013 fiscal year, which helped all interested parties advance their causes.  

Williams concludes that the grudges and differences between sportsmen and conservationists cannot be worse than the differences between Russia and England at the start of the Second World War, and yet they united. 

“Winston Churchill’s hatred of communism was virtually unrivaled in Europe or America. He defined communists as the lowest 'criminal class' and 'baboons' who pursued ‘sub-human goals.’ So all who love fish and wildlife should recall Churchill’s words when he was scolded about England’s alliance with Stalin: ‘I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby. If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.’”

h/t Field & Stream. Read William’s full post.

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