Caribou Gear Tarp

Missed Opportunities: Hunters and Environmentalists

Hydrophilic

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Feb 4, 2021
Messages
202
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Oregon
Hunters can, at times, find themselves in an awkward position. They benefit greatly from a public land system which places the 'common good' over private exploitation and maximum profits. Hunters also benefit from 'The Public Trust doctrine' which, again, places the 'common good' and 'sustained yield' over maximized profits for the few. This seems to rebel against capitalism, and the irony hasn't gone unnoticed. President Reagan even declared himself a sagebrush rebel who wanted to transfer federal land to state and private hands.

Hunters can also be at odds with private property owners, pro-development industry, and the general public who seek representation in a multiple use policy.

Going forward, as we experience more habitat loss and more concern about climate change, the train of public perception will be leaving the station. Lets look at a basic statistic.

4% of the US population hunts

40% of the US population considers themselves an environmentalist

What segment has more sway over public opinion at large? Especially with a younger conservative base that is pushing for an environmental platform?

Environmentalists.

Which leads to the question: Can hunters and environmental groups find common ground more often and become a stronger coalition to contend with? Let's look at their common goals.

Goals of hunters: To consume and conserve wildlife, improve and protect the natural environment.
Goals of environmentalists: Conserve wildlife, improve and protect the natural environment.

Hunters and environmentalists have more common ground than people think, why don't they seem to work together? When the environmental movement first started it was largely bipartisan. The movement was a response to pollution, rivers on fire, and general perceived environmental degradation. In fact, the ESA was almost unanimously passed in a bipartisan fashion. Same with the Clean water act. Governor Tom McCall, perhaps Oregon's finest environmental governor (1967-1975), was a republican. It's hard to imagine the same cooperation in todays climate.

Of relevance to continued decline of bipartisan support for environmental issues is the little talked about Anti-environmental movement - a corporate funded response to the first earth day and the growing environmental movement which threatened big money. This movement has degraded the environmental movement among both political parties with republicans showing the sharpest decline in support. Jeffrey Clements is an attorney (operates a bipartisan nonprofit dedicated to overturning citizens united) who dissects the relationship between the environmental movement, the anti-environmental movement, and a decades long winning streak of corporate 'rights' which has resulted in corporations now donating billions to political races through Super PACs. The end result is a populace that feels increasingly out of touch with their elected officials, who potentially have been bought.

Of course, other wedges between hunters and environmentalists include ESA litigation which directly competes with hunters interests, lingering anti-gun anxieties, and some environmental policies that have hampered extraction industries in rural areas.

From the environmentalist perspective, hunters are narrow sighted 'single species' conservationists who are sometimes generalized as voting for environmental deregulation platforms and supporting the NRA.

Will hunters and environmentalist agree on everything? No. But I believe both groups can be valuable assets to each other. Environmentalists will get hands on, consumptive users that engage intensely with resources. They would also have better access and abilities to build trust with rural communities. Hunters would have increased exposure to public opinion, different political avenues to explore, public land allies, and by infiltrating environmental organizations they would have more influence on the movement itself.

Is it feasible, it's hard to say. But the potential is enormous. Just look at a recent mega victory in Bristol Bay, Alaska - the last salmon stronghold. Hunters, anglers, and environmentalists joined forces and accomplished more than they could on their own.

 

rtraverdavis

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Oct 20, 2016
Messages
3,061
Location
OREGON
Imagine if we could drop blind allegiance to political parties, stop falling for all the “us vs. them” spin in the media, be willing to discuss highly-nuanced, complicated issues with open minds, and work with people who are different than us for causes that matter. I’ve become pretty cynical toward believing this is possible writ large. In my experience, it seems those sorts of bridges only get crossed on the personal level, but the Pebble Mine fight does demonstrate a compelling example of major groups from different interests working together.

Problem is, not every issue is Pebble Mine. Combating cheat grass and juniper encroachment, while certainly an environmental move, does not have the same sex-appeal as “saving Bristol Bay.” The targeted cause has to be compelling enough to both groups to bring them together. People have to know something to really care about it, or at least have something to relate it to in a meaningful way. It has to be part of their own story for them to take action, in my experience at least. Communicating ideas that are outside of others’ wheelhouse in a way that they can relate to and care about is hard if you’re taking about slow, often hard-to-notice changes to a landscape. But I’m all ears. What could this look like as a “movement?”
 

Shangobango

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Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
1,602
Location
Louisiana
Hunters can, at times, find themselves in an awkward position. They benefit greatly from a public land system which places the 'common good' over private exploitation and maximum profits. Hunters also benefit from 'The Public Trust doctrine' which, again, places the 'common good' and 'sustained yield' over maximized profits for the few. This seems to rebel against capitalism, and the irony hasn't gone unnoticed. President Reagan even declared himself a sagebrush rebel who wanted to transfer federal land to state and private hands.

Hunters can also be at odds with private property owners, pro-development industry, and the general public who seek representation in a multiple use policy.

Going forward, as we experience more habitat loss and more concern about climate change, the train of public perception will be leaving the station. Lets look at a basic statistic.

4% of the US population hunts

40% of the US population considers themselves an environmentalist

What segment has more sway over public opinion at large? Especially with a younger conservative base that is pushing for an environmental platform?

Environmentalists.

Which leads to the question: Can hunters and environmental groups find common ground more often and become a stronger coalition to contend with? Let's look at their common goals.

Goals of hunters: To consume and conserve wildlife, improve and protect the natural environment.
Goals of environmentalists: Conserve wildlife, improve and protect the natural environment.

Hunters and environmentalists have more common ground than people think, why don't they seem to work together? When the environmental movement first started it was largely bipartisan. The movement was a response to pollution, rivers on fire, and general perceived environmental degradation. In fact, the ESA was almost unanimously passed in a bipartisan fashion. Same with the Clean water act. Governor Tom McCall, perhaps Oregon's finest environmental governor (1967-1975), was a republican. It's hard to imagine the same cooperation in todays climate.

Of relevance to continued decline of bipartisan support for environmental issues is the little talked about Anti-environmental movement - a corporate funded response to the first earth day and the growing environmental movement which threatened big money. This movement has degraded the environmental movement among both political parties with republicans showing the sharpest decline in support. Jeffrey Clements is an attorney (operates a bipartisan nonprofit dedicated to overturning citizens united) who dissects the relationship between the environmental movement, the anti-environmental movement, and a decades long winning streak of corporate 'rights' which has resulted in corporations now donating billions to political races through Super PACs. The end result is a populace that feels increasingly out of touch with their elected officials, who potentially have been bought.

Of course, other wedges between hunters and environmentalists include ESA litigation which directly competes with hunters interests, lingering anti-gun anxieties, and some environmental policies that have hampered extraction industries in rural areas.

From the environmentalist perspective, hunters are narrow sighted 'single species' conservationists who are sometimes generalized as voting for environmental deregulation platforms and supporting the NRA.

Will hunters and environmentalist agree on everything? No. But I believe both groups can be valuable assets to each other. Environmentalists will get hands on, consumptive users that engage intensely with resources. They would also have better access and abilities to build trust with rural communities. Hunters would have increased exposure to public opinion, different political avenues to explore, public land allies, and by infiltrating environmental organizations they would have more influence on the movement itself.

Is it feasible, it's hard to say. But the potential is enormous. Just look at a recent mega victory in Bristol Bay, Alaska - the last salmon stronghold. Hunters, anglers, and environmentalists joined forces and accomplished more than they could on their own.

I can’t sleep so I am a little dull at the moment. I am going to mull this over more but…

The biggest hurdle I see is a large subset of hunters and environmentalists who are, how can I say this tactfully, not exactly the most open-minded folks on the planet.

The current political climate in this country makes it difficult to find middle ground a lot of the time.

Hell, saying the words environmentalist or conservationist in a lot of establishments around here will get you some nasty looks if not tossed.

Very thought provoking post. Looking forward to those more knowledgeable than me chiming in.
 

Straight Arrow

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Jun 10, 2009
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4,829
Location
Gallatin Gateway, MT
Sytes summed it up very well in another thread with the following post:
"Politics... <period> screw the libs and conservs. Political Superbowl over our wildlife. Extreme's have divided our ability to half ass manage our wildlife to trench warfare - each party's extremes fixing the f-ups of the other party."

Until voters start considering the issues and the ramifications of just opening the ballot and voting straight R or straight D, conservation and protection of wildlife and wild places will continue to be very challenging. The current political era is so disheartening and so contrary to the long held attitudes and values of this nation. It is no longer idealism and lofty goals ... it's fake news and falsely based ideology which sets sense of integrity and pride.
 

Islander

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Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
365
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Lowcountry, SC
What percentage of Environmentalists are anti hunting? What percentage are vegetarians or vegan? That combined percentage of Environmentalists are literally enemies of hunters and put those two issues above environmental issues. That's the battleground you have to acknowledge when weighing options. .
 

FI460

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Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
761
Location
Ashland, OR
What percentage of Environmentalists are anti hunting? What percentage are vegetarians or vegan? That combined percentage of Environmentalists are literally enemies of hunters and put those two issues above environmental issues. That's the battleground you have to acknowledge when weighing options. .

Many vegans choose that diet for purely personal health reasons. I've had vegan friends help me skin deer. I'd wager it's about 60/40 for the vegans I know, with 60% of them being at least OK with hunting.

But that's sort of the crux of the issue imo. Conservation spans beyond labels and we humans love to label things. I think a lot of good discussion on conservation issues breaks down over litmus tests of peripheral issues. The middle ground is often strong, but camps have difficulty partnering when there isn't complete alignment.
 

Dougfirtree

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Jul 27, 2016
Messages
1,941
Location
Adirondacks
It's the holy grail for conservation work and there's alot of fertile ground for those in both camps, who can get past the partisanship being pushed on us these days. How many times has the gun control divide "shot us all in the foot" when it comes to conservation?
 

lpcoutdoors

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Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
160
Location
Cross Roads, TX
What percentage of Environmentalists are anti hunting? What percentage are vegetarians or vegan? That combined percentage of Environmentalists are literally enemies of hunters and put those two issues above environmental issues. That's the battleground you have to acknowledge when weighing options. .
I fished with a guide in Alaska one time, his wife mentioned she was a vegan. I exclaimed, "I don't a ton about vegans or ya'll yet (this was in the early 2000's) but I think that might be awkward for your marriage." She replied that as a vegan she believed animals should not be mistreated or misused and that hunting and fishing were neither mistreatment or misuse because that is the natural order of things. That was the first vegan I ever talked with, so I guess I got a good start and have tried to just figure they all think that way. Been no harm and alot of health and happiness in my interactions with them because of that assumption. She then showed me the pictures of the mooses and the brown and grizzly bears that she had killed!
 

rtraverdavis

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OREGON
My family and I had dinner with friends last night. Venison tacos using meat from the buck I killed last October. The wife is a vegan, the husband loved the venison and is interested in hunting. We talked quite a bit about hunting and there was zero animosity at all, just curiosity and an honest desire to understand from both her perspective and mine. But there was already a mutual respect and recognition of the basic humanity in everyone involved in the conversation, which is what seems to get erased from larger dialogues because of rabid political zealots from both sides.

There's definitely headway to be made, but everybody has to drop the macho belief that their perspective is the only valid one.
 

elkduds

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Jan 22, 2016
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3,003
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CO Springs.
My family and I had dinner with friends last night. Venison tacos using meat from the buck I killed last October. The wife is a vegan, the husband loved the venison and is interested in hunting. We talked quite a bit about hunting and there was zero animosity at all, just curiosity and an honest desire to understand from both her perspective and mine. But there was already a mutual respect and recognition of the basic humanity in everyone involved in the conversation, which is what seems to get erased from larger dialogues because of rabid political zealots from both sides.

There's definitely headway to be made, but everybody has to drop the macho belief that their perspective is the only valid one.
A simple way to do this is through 1-1 discussion, like in @rtraverdavis's and @lpcoutdoors's examples above. We can talk to each other as individuals without bringing the entire tribal backstory. In fact this is probably the best way to heal our polarization without taking up arms and killing the infidels who dare to disagree w us.
 

Dirthog67

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Jan 23, 2021
Messages
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Many, if not most environmentalists realize that wild game, as long as it doesn't lead to over hunting, is the most environmentally friendly meat there is.

Also, many if not most vegans/vegetarians, if you don't count teenage girls, don't have an ethical problem with eating animals. Its the cruelty and environmental damages done by factory farms and/or health reasons.

The conflicts will come from trophy kills and hunting animals you aren't going to eat as well as predator control.

Hunters also get a bad rap whenever there is an "accidental" shooting, like the lady shot and killed on a trail, less than a mile from the trailhead because she "looked Ike a bear".

People, many who lean towards the environmentalist side of the spectrum are afraid to even go hiking during hunting season because of instances of accidental shootings or bad interactions with people hunting yelling at them for one thing or another, drinking, and just generally behaving badly.

Most rational people realize the bad actors are the minority, the problem is that when you run into a hunter, they are likely to be carrying a gun, and guns are scary. So when the environmentalists hiker crosses paths with the hunter any potential discomfort is amplified because he has a gun and guns are scary. Think of the awkward passing each other dance. Guns are scary, so they blocked the path. Grumpy looking out of breath climbing face? Guns are scary, they were scary.

Distancing from the NRA, or even considering supporting some moderate gun control as most suggested measures aren't really going to effect hunters any way would help.

Shoot down anti-science, anecdotal management ideas and recognize that many environmentalists would like to see ecosystems as intact as possible. That means cougars, grizzly bears and wolves. Learn to work inside or atleast alongside that framework.

Making connections, understanding each other and finding common ground is always a worthy endeavor.
 

wllm

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Boston
What percentage of Environmentalists are anti hunting? What percentage are vegetarians or vegan? That combined percentage of Environmentalists are literally enemies of hunters and put those two issues above environmental issues. That's the battleground you have to acknowledge when weighing options. .
My BIL was dating this woman for a while whose mom and dad were super into shooting, but staunchly anti hunting. My BIL at the time was pretty antagonistic towards rifle hunting... needless to say funny little dynamic to watch.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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Dec 11, 2009
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WY
Environmentalists will get hands on, consumptive users that engage intensely with resources. They would also have better access and abilities to build trust with rural communities. Hunters would have increased exposure to public opinion, different political avenues to explore, public land allies, and by infiltrating environmental organizations they would have more influence on the movement itself.
I'm not so sure the majority of the two groups actually want those things.

I think you could look at the opposition and challenges that BHA deals with from both sides as somewhat indicative of the on-the-ground problems with realizing a symbiotic future. I'm not saying there's no progress to be made, but if you were looking for some data points, that might be a place to start.
 
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