Where the Buffalo Roam...But You Can't
|By John C. Street|
|Monday, 07 September 2009 21:40|
In the European countries from which many of this nation’s original citizens immigrated, fish and wildlife – as well as large tracts of land that supported them – were owned by a monarchy of unelected rulers. Penalties for “poaching” were harsh.
While attempts to claim the New Worlds’ fish and wildlife were made by the rulers of the countries whose people fled to America,these claims were hard to enforce and largely ignored. Historical accounts reveal that, despite the early establishment of agriculture, fish and wildlife were mainstays of the early settlers’ diet. And even after farming became the major source of food, “market hunting” remained an established and respectable way of life that persisted into the early 1900s.
As the population of the United States grew, however, and became more urbanized, the pressure of market hunting on our fish and wildlife became too much for the resource to bear. Populations of wild creatures – notably well documented by the American Bison, the Passenger Pigeon and several species of waterfowl – were taken down to the precipitous edge of extinction.
From this low point in our history, a conservation ethic was born in the hunting and fishing community and the leaders of this movement – which began in the late 1800s and grew in leaps and bounds over the ensuing decades. But there were literally thousands of other people who recognized the intrinsic value of wild life and wild places and pressured their state legislators to “protect and preserve” these natural resources. In 1932, as an example, one of these lesser known names was forever immortalized right here in Pennsylvania when the first facility in the nation – the Ross Leffler School of Conservation – was constructed to formally train Wildlife Conservation Officers.
Viewed from the perspective of the twenty-fist century, then, the results of this conservation ethic are nothing short of miraculous. Today, the federal government, after nearly a century of purchasing land for National Parks and Forests, is the largest landholder in the United States followed closely by individual states. And the list of fish and wildlife – both “game” and “non-game” – brought back from the brink of extinction are too voluminous to list but illustratively represented by two high-visibility survivors; the Bald Eagle and the whitetail deer. Ironically, though, a funny thing happened as a result of this success; the grass-roots conservation ethic evolved into an industry.
Today, lest there be any doubt regarding the progression of this evolution, there is a full blown economic impact statement that declares hunting and fishing are “a $76 billion economic force” here in the United States (see "Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy" at www.nssf.org). Furthermore, the preparers of this report have concluded that, through the purchases of licenses, related gear and travel, hunters and anglers “directly support 1.6 million jobs … and they generate $25 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes.”
Ironically, though, at about the same time the hunting and fishing sports began evolving into a “$76 billion economic force,” a new environmental ethos was taking root in the United States. Today, according to a report published by the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (www.cdfe.org), this nascent environmental ethos has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar, tightly controlled consortium of both fringe and mainstream environmental organizations that are lavishly funded by a handful of wealthy foundations. Although it is just a means to an end, these organizations have good reason to blur the line between traditional hunter/angler groups and the environmental movement.
Unbeknownst to some – and disingenuously denied by others - who advocate for a partnership between the environmental movement and the “$76 billion economic force,” there is an obscure document titled “Agenda 21” (see http://worldinbalance.net/agreements/1992-rio-agenda21.php) that spells out prescriptions and action plans for, among a long list of other frightening things, doing away with hunting and fishing and curtailing access to land that is held in the public domain (for details and a complete list of the other “frightening things,” see the related United Nations Environmental Programme, “Global Biodiversity Assessment Report” which is available at http://earthwatch.unep).
Agenda 21, as you will discover from a review of the parenthesized references, is a program run by the United Nations with the ultimate goal of achieving “'Sustainable Development’ … a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the U.N., governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment.”
And please note that the “major groups” referred to in this description are identified in the text of the Agenda 21 document as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), many of which are the same environmental and sportsmen’s organizations (see www.greentrackinglibrary.com) that are attempting to co-opt hunters and anglers into the pantheistic religion of “Sustainable Development.”
Today, as it was before this country was known as the United States of America, there is land aplenty for the buffalo to roam, for eagles to soar and, as a result of the conservation ethic the hunting and fishing community adopted in the late 1800s, for those of us who cling to hunting and fishing as a sacred way of life.
Allowing the accomplishments and credibility of the hunting and fishing community to be usurped by environmental extremists who are willing – arguably anxious – to cripple the nation that spawned a conservation ethic that is the envy of the world is anathema to all that has transpired since this important work began.
And it is unadulterated naiveté to believe that the $76 billion industry that evolved out of that conservation ethic will somehow be spared from the economic Armageddon that will inevitably follow.
Where the Buffalo Roam...But You Can't by John C. Street
John Street is an inquisitive contrarian who writes, frequently with humor, about current events in fish and wildlife research as well as the ethical and societal issues that affect the outdoor life. He can be contacted through the Clarion News at email@example.com