Even during a pandemic, hunters have not stopped caring about and working for wildlife.
Photo above by Vic Schendel
As hunters, we know how crucial wildlife and natural habitats are to the human condition, perhaps now more than ever. And while it’s understandable that wildlife conservation may take a back seat to other concerns during a health and economic crisis, it’s important that this work continues. Unfortunately, funding for conservation is not immune to the economic carnage that is taking place as a result of the current pandemic. The work of hunter-funded conservation organizations is crucial to these efforts, but 2020 is shaping up to be a challenging year for these groups.
Dozens of chapters of Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, DSC, Safari Club International, Mule Deer Foundation, and Wild Sheep Foundation, among many others, hold their fundraisers and banquets in the spring. This year, many were forced to cancel the events that raise the majority of their funding. As a result, some have had to cut costs and re-examine their budgets.
Although these cancelled or curtailed fundraisers have left many organizations in a difficult position, most don’t want to sound tone-deaf by sending out pleas for cash at a time when many of their members have also been affected by job losses and economic hardship. So if your own situation permits, this is a great time to send an extra donation or two to your favorite conservation group. If you’re able to, buy some merchandise or raffle tickets, or even treat a hunting partner or youngster you know to the gift of a membership. Not everyone is in a position to do these things right now, but if you are, your help will make a huge difference.
There are dire conservation needs overseas as well. In Africa and Asia, the absence of hunters, guides, and game officials in the field has led to a huge increase in poaching, as well as pressures on local communities and huge disruptions to the livelihoods of guides and outfitters who do so much to protect vulnerable wildlife species. The DSC Foundation’s Hunters CARE initiative is addressing this by providing a rapid-response fund that quickly disburses resources to hunting operators to continue their antipoaching operations. (For details, go to dscf.org)
Crises, difficult as they are, often bring out the best in human nature, and a silver lining in this pandemic is how many people have stepped up to say, “How can I help?” Wildlife as well as people need our support now, and in a time when our front-line workers are so crucial to our daily lives, hunters have always been, and will continue to be, the front-line workers for conservation.