HUNTERS AND ENDANGERED SPECIES: BEDFELLOWS FOR HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS
Stuhlmiller, Shane David
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This paper explores American hunting culture and how American politics shaped it. Highlighting the need for legislation like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is showcased through a focusing event based on America’s historical interaction with the American buffalo. In addition to developing legislation to sustain and preserve wildlife, America developed the North American Model of Conservation (NAMC), one of the best wildlife management systems ever seen. NAMC indicates that hunters have pivoted towards recovery and sustainment versus annihilation. This new model-built structure and funding with science-based approaches towards the decision to conserve wildlife. Using five case studies that involve the ESA in practice, it is clear that the problem is not the ESA itself. The problem surrounding protecting endangered species is the polarization among individuals and organizations. The quarrel centers over the science and recovery process used to recover endangered species. These various groups use litigation to slow the recovery of endangered species, ultimately slowing the species’ return to state control. Once a species returns to state management, the state can determine wildlife population management practices. Often the state will use hunting for wildlife management. Selling hunting and fishing licenses generates means to fund conservation efforts as well as manage wildlife populations. These funds are earmarked only for conservation efforts and are not allowed into general funds. The next threats to hunters and endangered species will be the continued cultural shifts within American society and not state management of endangered species. Plant-based diets, the anti-gun movement, and the prolonged polarization across American society are a more significant threat to endangered species. Many organizations that seek to keep wild places wild have the same end goals. The disagreement is on which path to take. Saving endangered species saves hunting, and it will take strange bedfellows to recover endangered species.