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Setting the Stage for the Next Century of Conservation

North American Model of Wildlife Conservation principles:

  • Wildlife is a public resource.
  • Market hunting was eliminated. It is illegal to buy or sell wildlife.
  • Hunting regulations and laws created seasons and bag limits so only surplus wildlife is taken.
  • Wildlife can only be taken for only legitimate purposes such as food or management.
  • Wildlife, such as migratory birds, is an international resource.
  • Scientific principles should be used to determine management practices and policy.
  • Hunting opportunities are available to all, but users pay for that right through license and stamps purchases, and the excise tax on firearms and hunting equipment.

During September, hunters are starting to soothe their annual itch to spend time in the great outdoors. Hunters are preparing for the upcoming seasons, anticipating time spent with families and friends, and reconnecting with America's woods and waters.

However, those who hunt, or care about wildlife and habitat conservation, have to look beyond the hunting season. This fall, hunting and conservation leaders will meet with government decision-makers to chart the course for the future of our passions.

This meeting is the first time since Theodore Roosevelt that a President has determined that wildlife conservation and our hunting heritage are important enough to bring together those who have a stake in these issues to craft a strategy that will take us through the next decade.

"Hunters were the first to notice that wildlife species were disappearing," said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., National Wild Turkey Federation's chief conservation officer. "They realized that they had to intervene for wildlife if they wanted to continue hunting in the future. Today, hunters are still the ones out there working for wildlife by paying for restoration and habitat enhancement, and conducting on-the-ground habitat projects that benefit wildlife and everyone who spends time in the outdoors."

In 1908, President Roosevelt convened a broad group of leaders to address the issue of natural resource conservation. The meeting launched conservation to national attention and set the stage for the next generation of hunter conservationists.

From Roosevelt's legacy came conservation leaders such as Aldo Leopold, who led the charge to craft the American Game Policy in 1930 to solidify the importance of wildlife management and to strengthen the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The Game Policy was updated only once in 1973 when a new North American Wildlife Policy adapted wildlife conservation goals to fit the new challenges that were facing wildlife management.

The White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy was created through a Presidential Executive Order and will use the values and lessons from the past century of conservation successes involving input from the hunting and conservation community. Elected officials from across political background, will work to ensure the future of hunting and conservation no matter who is in the White House or controlling Congress.

While challenges continue to mount, a national direction and strategy for hunting and conservation has not been developed in more than 30 years. Through urging from the Sporting Conservation Council, a federal committee created to advise federal agencies on conservation issues, President Bush signed The Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation Executive Order in August 2007 to pave the way for a necessary update.

"The vision of our forefathers helped protect this country's precious natural resources, but we have work that we need to continue in order to ensure we have healthy wildlife populations and continued opportunities for hunting," stated Sporting Conservation Council Chairman and Boone and Crockett Club Chairman, Bob Model. "Hunters have long led the charge on protecting wildlife and their habitat, and it is with this perspective that we will lay the foundation for the future of wildlife conservation and our hunting traditions."

The Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation Executive Order called for federal agencies to expand and enhance hunting opportunities, game management and wildlife habitat. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture were tasked with evaluating the effects of their actions on trends in hunting participation, considering the economic and recreational values of hunting, managing wildlife and wildlife habitat to expand and enhance hunting opportunities and working collaboratively with state and tribal wildlife managers to foster healthy wildlife populations.

The executive order also calls for the Chairman on the Council on Environmental Quality and the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to work with the Sporting Conservation Council to convene a wildlife policy conference to be the foundation for a 10-year Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Resource Conservation Plan.

Topics will include the management of wildlife at the state, tribal and federal levels; conserving and managing habitat while addressing issues such as energy development and climate change; ensuring dependable funding for wildlife conservation; and continuing hunting traditions. Groups conveying a broad range of interests have expanded these concepts and developed attainable policy goals to be included in the final plan.

The coming fall means getting out into the field to hunt and reconnect with the outdoors, but it also means the start of the next century of conservation.
Jodi Stemler, American Wildlife Conservation Partners



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