Perhaps you saw the recent Reuters article “U.S. hunters, anglers lobby for climate bill,” which disingenuously insinuates that most hunting-conservation groups support so-called comprehensive global-warming legislation. This recent push by some hunter-conservation groups to join the global-warming debate, as it has been explained to me, is tactical.
Since Teddy Roosevelt reinvented the American sportsmen, hunters and anglers have been at the forefront of the conservation movement in the U.S. Through taxes on their guns and ammo and fees for their licenses, sportsmen pay for most conservation in this country. Environmentalists don’t pay those taxes when they buy spandex mountain-biking shorts or REI water bladders. Nor do they do the on-the-ground work that hunters and anglers do for fish and wildlife. So it’s no surprise that they’re looking to sportsmen for validation.
Needless to say, a pro-conservation agenda does not coincide with a conventionally green agenda. Consider that the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International have argued against claims that the polar bear is in danger from global warming and have opposed the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule change to ban the importation of legally hunted Canadian polar-bear skins. Hunter-conservationists understand that such regulatory efforts are self-defeating. Polar-bear hunting has given local native populations an economic incentive to coexist with polar bears, and hunters’ money has added millions of dollars to polar-bear conservation. Studies have shown that polar-bear populations have been growing for decades — including the hunted populations. Ending the importation of polar-bear skins harms polar-bear conservation.
So why do hunter-conservation groups want a seat at the table in Washington with greens — who, despite their posturing, seem not to understand how best to protect wildlife and the environment? I asked George Cooper, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, why they were entering the global-warming debate. He said, “We want to be certain some of the money spent on this issue goes to help wildlife.” That’s a pragmatic Beltway position; the downside, of course, is that left-wing journalists and environmental groups can claim they have support from what are seen as typically conservative groups. Articles such as this Reuters piece, then, are spin. Wanting a seat at the table is not an industry-wide endorsement of the green agenda — and certainly not an endorsement of the socialist’s wet dream that is cap-and trade.
– Frank Miniter is the author of The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting.