My hat’s off to MoJo for having the courage to run the article, Sacrificial Ram, which will surely piss off at least half of MoJo’s readers.
Everyone who has taken an introductory economics course knows that to preserve assets, the assets must be owned by someone (or a group, including the government) with an interest in preserving or increasing those assets. The ejidatarios are proof of that. They now see a potential income stream from protecting and improving their environment. This scenario is replicated all over the world.
My family has a ranch in central California. We would be irresponsible and foolish to kill all the game animals to the point of localized extinction — not only for the diversification of the local animal populations (extinctions result in unpredictable shifts in populations of predators and prey), but for our own enjoyment of the property. We would be less involved in responsible game management without a direct ownership interest in the land and its animals. The dire conditions of the world’s fisheries prove the point.
Individuals like Brian Drettman and conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited help preserve the species in which they are interested: they are protectors of the environment.
Very interesting interview, and a very important one, I believe. As a professional conservationist/environmentalist, I think it is very important that the contribution of sound, sustainable hunting to conservation efforts is highlighted. Having worked for many years in South Africa, I can attest to the value of hunting in promoting species and habitat conservation. While some concerns that hunting opponents raise are legitimate, much of the fuss is has cultural bias at its core.
I also wanted to point out the somewhat erroneous underlying assumption in your interview, embodied in the question “What do you think the environmentalist misunderstands about hunting and hunters?” Many people in my profession are supporters of hunting. It is generally the more animal rights/welfare oriented groups and extreme organizations that are against it, and this attitude often pits them against the more mainstream set (e.g. WWF, CI, USFWS). But perhaps there is a real distinction between those who call themselves environmentalists, and those who call themselves conservationists.
Thanks for an interesting article.
Lyndon D. Estes