Thanks to the Armchair Mayor for his opinion regarding teenage hunters. (Do We Need More Teenaged Hunters?, The Daily News, Feb. 21). Some points:
* Grassroots conservation organizations are often hunter-based. British Columbia Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Wild Sheep Society, Kamloops Fish and Game, all of these organizations are funded and run by hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who actively work to protect and preserve a healthy, balanced ecosystem.
* Connection to nature is an integral part of the human experience. Individuals who actively participate in outdoor activities are more likely to protect and care about the natural environment than those removed from it. Hunting and angling are excellent ways to connect to nature for thousands of British Columbians. Hunters protect wildlife and ecosystems.
* Hunters help manage wildlife through crop protection and conflict wildlife displacement. Depredation of crops and wildlife collisions cost millions per year for agricultural producers and ICBC. Go to Westwold in August and count the deer in the fields. Hunting creates pressure and displaces animals reducing issues such as crop depredation and vehicle collisions (ICBC average cost is $3,500 per deer or $31,000 per moose). Look at the Tk’emlups reserves sheep fence.
It’s a hunter-funded fence. How many animals has it saved? How many vehicle collisions, lives, and injuries has it stopped? The Kootenays’ increasing elk populations doubled vehicle collision rates. Hunter opportunity there pushed elk away from highway corridors and decreased collisions rates.
* Hunting drives conservation dollars. The Habitat Conservation Trust Fund (www.hctf.ca) is directly responsible for millions of dollars annually for wildlife inventory, habitat restoration and wildlife relocations. Ducks Unlimited is responsible for millions of acres of wetlands throughout North America based largely on hunter-funded dollars.
These wetlands provide strong diverse ecosystems and literally billions of non-hunted birds and animals for wildlife viewing opportunities. Not to mention the dollar value that is equated when wetlands help mitigate floods and increase water filtration reducing the need for multi-million dollar water treatment centres.
* Hunter numbers have been on the decline and are less than half of what they were 30 years ago. As these numbers go down, wildlife suffers. This is a counter-intuitive thing to believe, that hunting is good for animals and ecosystems. You must take a step back and view it at a population level not. The control of populations can prevent disease spread, habitat degradation (go to Vancouver Island and see what geese are doing to the estuaries) and a whole series of other issues.
* Where does it say somebody who is 25, 35 or 45 years old is a better mentor than somebody at 18? The parents of the youth must be aware of the mentor and use their judgment when allowing their youth to go hunting. Golf has a higher per capita injury and death rate than hunting.