Finally, the media finds a story on hunting that needs to be told
Dec 13, 2005
Hunters helped save rare bird from extinction
A hunting lodge with antler chandeliers and stuffed ducks on the walls seems a strange place to celebrate the comeback of the ivory-billed woodpecker, but wildlife officials are doing exactly that.
They credit hunters in particular with helping bring the rare bird back from presumed extinction in the Big Woods section of Arkansas.
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"The people of Arkansas, the hunting and fishing community, conserved these woods," Scott Simon of The Nature Conservancy told reporters on Monday at the Mallard Pointe Lodge, where a coalition of environmentalists, academics and wildlife officials rejoiced in woodpecker's return to the living.
Simon said hunters and others helped save the bird in large part by buying Duck Stamps, at $15 each. These stamps are not for postage, but pay for a federal migratory bird conservation fund, and eventually added up to $41 million to reclaim much of the habitat of the endangered woodpecker.
"The $41 million went into the land before the ivory bill showed up," Simon said.
The ivory-billed woodpecker was believed extinct for the last 60 years, and various reports of sightings of the big bird — jet black and bright white with a red crest on the male — were dismissed by professional ornithologists.
Their scepticism was warranted because of the destruction of the big old trees over much of the American southeast that began after the U.S. Civil War. The ivory bill's large size, with a body perhaps 20 inches (50 cm) long means it needs large trees to nest in. It is known to scale the bark off old, dying and dead trees to get at the cigar-sized grubs that live there.
But that was before an amateur naturalist said he saw one while paddling in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in February 2004. When he brought two bird experts to the same spot, they saw it too. And when a professor captured the bird in flight in fuzzy but authentic video, an analysis of all the data pointed to the startling fact that the ivory bill was back...
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Commentary by Larry S. Moore:
Finally, a major media outlet prints some truth about hunting.
The woods, wetlands, and fields we save and restore supports a lot of wildlife that is not hunted. Even those species which are hunted, are healthy today because of hunters and the organizations they join to save and restore habitat.
Habitat loss is the number one reason in the United States for the decline of any wildlife population. While PETA protests hunting and trapping, the very people being targeted are pouring out their wallets and their time to save habitat, restore habitat and, essentially, save wildlife. Hunters were the first conservationists. We stopped the mass killing for market hunting and we first taxed ourselves during the Great Depression years when money was tight because our forefathers understood the need.
Today's hunters and conservationists continue that tradition through many organizations. Meanwhile the politically-correct anti-hunters spend their time and effort to stop hunting but they protect nothing.
I extend a hearty Thank You and Merry Christmas to all hunters who have worked for conservation, teach hunter education, and carry our great heritage forward for future generations.