Whitetail Habitat Conservation

T.R. Michels

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I don't claim to know a lot about habitat conservation, other than to say I know that we need it, for a variety of reasons. I've lost at least two good deer hunting areas to development since 1997 (obviously those areas also contained songbirds, small mammals, trees, shrubs, herbs, forbes (wildflowers), butterflies and other invertebrates. I've also noticed the destruction of good wildlife habitat (for housing or business development projects) in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and many other states. As a result of this I find myself becoming more interested in, and hopefully more knowledgeable about, both wildlife and habitat conservation.

As I've traveled around the country during the past several years on our Natural History Eco-Tours and family adventures, I've had the opportunity to meet and talk to several different outdoorsman. I recently met the biologist for the "Northern Trail" at the Minnesota Zoo, who manages the wolf, tiger and other exhibits. Then I met the Outdoor Education Manager for the Three Rivers Park District in Hennepin and Scott Counties of Minnesota (which includes the recognized IBA [Important Birding Area] of Murphy Hanrahan Park), and an attorney with the state of Minnesota who writes legislation for threatened or endangered species. And with all of them - our conversation got around to habitat and wildlife conservation.

As a result of talking to Minnesota's State Farmland Wildlife Manager, Al Berner, about such various species as deer, ducks, pheasants, turkeys, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens, I've come to realize that the loss of habitat for many game species also means loss of habitat for many non-game species, such as insects, fish, small mammals and songbirds. In other words what is good for the game birds, is also good for the songbirds and other types of birds.
While I was talking to Al he impressed upon me the need for habitat restoration such as Conservation Reserve Program lands, and other habitat conservation, such as preserving or maintaining existing prairie and wetland habitat. Many upland bird (game) species, such as pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens, gray partridge, and even turkeys, need large areas of prairies, meadows, swamps, sloughs, fens, oak savanna, etc., for breeding and nesting habitat. Those areas also support dickcissel, bobolink, various species of sparrows, and meadowlarks. Many of those areas, because they are often on fairly level ground that might not be suitable for farming, are destroyed to make room for business complexes and housing.
To those outdoorsmen and nature lovers who don't hunt this might not seem like a concern, except that those areas are also prime habitat for many species of birds, small animals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, wildflowers and other plants. As I lead our natural history tours I've begun noticing the wide variety of native plants, wildflowers and birds that use wetlands, meadows and prairies. I've also begun to realize how much of their habitat is destroyed by human encroachment, in the name of progress.

After watching several programs on the Discovery, History and Animal Planet channels, I've come to realize the importance of wetlands (that serve as important habitat for birds) as barriers to the negative effects of storm surges and flooding. Cattail, saw grass, rushes and other wetland plants have the ability not only to reduce erosion due to flooding and storm surges, they also have the ability to reduce the harmful effects of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on the water and plant life, which provides needed habitat for the wildlife (including birds).

When rain falls on land covered with natural vegetation, the plants can slow the flow of run-off until it has a chance to sink into the ground, resulting in only a 10 per cent run off. However, when rain falls on a parking lot, 55 per cent of the water can run off into local brooks, creeks and wetlands, and from them into larger bodies of water. Run-off water may contain a variety of contaminants including oil, grease, heavy metals and sediments, plus harmful herbicides and pesticides, and fertilizers containing phosphorus, which can promote the growth of algae, often resulting in mass of green scum floating on the surface of the water, and result in algae "blooms" which often turn the water red-brown or blue-green.
Any of these conditions can result in less sunlight entering the water, causing less photosynthesis by native aquatic plants, resulting in less oxygen content in the water, and the possible spread of less beneficial and /or non-native and invasive plants, which do not help maintain the balance of the eco-system.
The preservation or creation of shallow swamps, sloughs, ponds or lagoons, between run-of water and/or streams, and deeper bodies of water, with their native vegetation, can greatly increase the natural filtration of water. Plants such as cattails, saw grass and sedges that may have extensive root systems which survive in shallow water, not only slow the speed of the water, but also trap sediments, and can filter out and use some of the contaminants that may cause a negative impact on the ecosystem plants in deeper waters.

Habitat Destruction for Economic Gain
Destruction of prairies and meadows for the development of agricultural, business and residential property reduces grasses, sedges and forbes (wildflowers) that provide seeds, pollen, forage and nesting habitat for birds, habitat for small mammals, which in turn support raptors and predatory mammals. Without beneficial ground cover (used by ducks, geese, grouse, songbirds, small mammals, insects, etc.), much of the precipitation that falls on the ground (which would normally soak slowly into the ground) may run off, often eroding the land (which causes further destruction of the habitat) and form gullies that may quickly funnel the water, with any contaminants, into creeks, streams, rivers, sloughs, marshes, ponds, lakes and larger bodied of water.
The construction of even the most primitive of roads in any type of habitat often leads to this same type of erosion, and the same type of habitat destruction and surface and water pollution. Off-road vehicle use often destroys ground cover, which again results in water runoff, and the eventual erosion of the topsoil, and the creation of more gullies; and the cycle continues. I've seen the destruction that the development of gravel roads into the sagebrush flats and foothills of the Rocky Mountains near many towns creates.
Agricultural fields and livestock pastures often allow runoff of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and animal waste into creeks, streams, rivers, sloughs, ponds, lakes and rivers; which affects aquatic plants, fish and invertebrates; in turn affecting mammals and birds. This can easily be alleviated by creating buffers of natural vegetation to stop or slow the water from running directly into the water. These buffers can act as habitat for birds and other wildlife. Livestock also cause erosion of the banks of watersheds when they destroy natural vegetation and breakdown the banks. This can be avoided by erecting fences to keep the cattle away from the water

Section Line (as in road-ditch habitat)
Al Berner informed that by law, the 33 feet on either side of the right of way on all section lines (four of them in on square mile, running from east to west and north to south surrounding the square mile) belongs top the state, and if it was left in natural conditions, would provide thousands of acres of habitat for wildlife in Minnesota. Basically what this means is that the 33 feet on either side of many roads in Minnesota, plus all of the land on section lines without roads, could be left in natural habitat, But, farmers rarely recognize these lines, or honor the laws that forbid them from burning, plowing, mowing and planting those right-of-ways. And to top it off the city, county and state often mow the ditches, effective destroying the habitat, which is not only used by pheasants and ducks to raise young (which often gets the hunters and trappers up in arms), it also is used by many birds and small mammals.

Fire Suppression
Fires, whether from natural causes such as lighting, or caused by humans (intentionally or unintentionally) on prairies and meadows, and in brushy areas and forests, have been part of the natural process of plant regeneration for centuries. Even naturally caused wildfires can be beneficial as they reduce natural fuels, which in turn reduces the chances of wild fires in the near future. Wildfires also expose mineral soil for seedbeds for regeneration of wind-disseminated species, such as fungi, mosses, grasses, forbes and many tree species. The reduction in vegetation in turn helps in the control of insects, diseases, and competing vegetation. As a result of this wildfires often result in the improvement of natural ecosystems and wildlife habitat as varied as wetlands, prairies, brushy areas and forests.
Native Americans often deliberately set fires to clear the land for horticulture, to improve access to some areas, and to change the composition of the plant community to attract game animals (such as bison). Early settlers set fires to assist in preparing the soil for agriculture and to eliminate stubble from the fields in the fall.
However, because of the destruction of human life, property, and resources by wildfires, the general government policy for most of this century has been to utilize man-made fire for the suppression of wildfires. The use of media campaigns such as Smokey the Bear, and Bambi fleeing from a fire, combined with fire suppression practices has resulted in a build up of vegetative fuels in many areas. Fire ecologists expect it will take several years of wildfires to establish a natural fire regime in many ecosystems.
In some areas where fire has been prevented from conducting its natural role in the environment, private and governmental agencies and scientists are setting controlled fires to mimic natural fire and improve landscape health and community safety. "One of the hard lessons we’ve learned is that eliminating or suppressing all fires actually increases the risk to people, damages natural habitats and drives up fire fighting costs” said Susan Harris, state director for the Nature Conservancy of Missouri.
Years of forest management practices that have eliminated wildfires has resulted in many forests becoming choked with thick undergrowth and small trees, that naturally occurring fires would normally eliminate. After years without fire, these forests become tinderboxes that are prone to hotter burns that are harder to control and pose a greater risk to communities than normal. These intense fires can have the ability to severely damage plant and wildlife species.

The Benefits of Fire
Many plant and animal species need fire to reproduce and thrive. Plants that need fire to reproduce and thrive are referred to as "burn-species". Some of the "burn species" plants are ephemeral annual herbs and forbes that have found an unusual means of adapting to environments that are for the most part unfavorable to their survival.
In the first year after a fire has temporarily diminished dominant forms of vegetation these herbs and forbes may appear and flourish, and upon maturation, they leave their sees behind. Although these plants may disappear from the landscape within a few years of a fire, the seeds can remain viable for up to 100 years or more. The goal of the seeds is to re-colonize the area after another fire. The plants may also appear from time to time in areas disturbed by other means, such as along sections of recently cleared trails, on land slides, and even along the areas of new road construction.
White-tailed deer, doves, quails, turkey, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken are game species that benefit from prescribed fire. Habitat preferences of several endangered species, including the Florida panther, gopher tortoise, indigo snake, and red-cockaded woodpecker, are also enhanced by burning. The benefits to wildlife from fires can be substantial; fruit and seed production is often stimulated; herbage, legumes, and browse from hardwood sprouts may increase in both quality and quantity; and openings are created for feeding, travel, and dusting.
After years of fire suppression in many areas, land managers now have to go back and ignite fires to mimic the natural fires these species depend on. Prior to settlement by the Europeans, occasional fires were an integral part of many ecosystems, and native plants and animals had adapted to the occurrence of wildfires. Forests were a more varied blend of old and young trees, and some forests were more open in character. Fire recycled the nutrients of the dead wood for use by growing plants, and conditioned the forest floor for the regeneration of species that are dependent on disturbance of the forest floor.
Pine trees of many species are a prime example of species that benefit from fire. During high intensity burns, the sealed cones of many pines open up, allowing dispersion of seeds over the fire-cleared ground. Anyone who has visited Yellowstone Park since the latest wildfires there has seen the abundant re-growth of not only the pine trees, but of many grasses, wildfires and shrubs; which have provided new habitat for many species or birds and mammals. In many areas pine trees are failing to regenerate due to past fire control practices.
The federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a fire-dependent species. It nests only in mature pine trees that are free of surrounding underbrush. Researchers believe the Red-cockaded Woodpecker colonies in many areas have been abandoned because the sites have become too brushy. Periodic fires would control the brush, which may provide predators with access to woodpecker nests.
Entire ecosystems often need fire to maintain their natural diversity of plants and animals. Many pine-oak, oak forests, and oak savanahs have poor reproductive success without occasional fires. Little or no oak regeneration has occurred in some areas as a result of fire suppression. Oaks provide acorns in the fall, which are an important food source for black bear, white-tailed deer, turkey, and other wildlife.

Part of the problem with "the idea of conservation" is that we humans may have begun to realize too late that in order for this planet, and us, to survive, we must conserve, and preserve, much more of the native habitat of the entire world, than we ever realized - until just the last century, after much of the important and needed habitat has already been destroyed - by us. We need to look at not only saving a particular wildlife or plant species, but saving the surrounding habitat and other species that are all dependent on each other for survival and reproduction.

Eco Systems and Eco-system Management

What is an Ecosystem?
In recent years conservationists have begun to realize that in order to properly maintain and manage wildlife habitat, they need to look beyond just the immediate area or species of concern, to a much broader area, in which the microbes, animals, plants, and geology of the habitat interact as an entire system, that interacts within itself.
The Glossary of Forestry Terms for the Province of British Columbia defines an ecosystem as "a functional unit consisting of all the living organisms (plants, animals, and microbes) in a given area, and all the non-living physical and chemical factors of their environment, linked together through nutrient cycling and energy flow. An ecosystem can be of any size-a log, pond, field, forest, or the earth's biosphere - but it always functions as a whole unit"
Most Americans are familiar with the term "Yellowstone Ecosystem" which the US Government uses to define the interaction of microbes, plants and animals of the area surrounding Yellowstone Park. This area encompasses not only the caldera or crater of the Yellowstone volcano, but also stretches of the Bechler, Fall, Firehole, Gallatin, Gardiner, Gibbon, Lamar, Lewis, and Yellowstone rivers. One of the original descriptions of the "ecosystem" of Yellowstone took into account the range of the endangered grizzly bear. The Yellowstone Ecosystem was later defined as the range of the cutthroat trout in the area, and later still to the range of the antelope, bison, elk, whitebark pine and other species - until the ecosystem has grown to what it is today, a large part of northwestern Wyoming, and smaller parts of southern Montana and eastern Idaho.
One definition of ecosystem management was expressed by J. Stan Rowe in 1992. "Ecosystem management is the application of the ecosystem approach in the conservation, management, and restoration of regional and local landscape ecosystems. It means that everyone attends to the conservation and sustainability of ecosystems, instead of sharply focusing on the productivity of individual or competing resources -- which has been our traditional mode of operation." An ecosystem can be as small as a backyard or small watershed, or as large as the planet earth.

What is Eco System Management?
Ecosystem management can be defined as the integration of ecological, social, and economic objectives for natural resource planning and management. The key to this "definition" lies in defining the objectives that are being integrated into the management plan. The ecological objectives of ecosystem management should address the conservation, preservation, maintenance and/or enhancement of biological diversity and ecosystem integrity; as a whole
Biological diversity is the variety of life and life processes, and includes the levels of landscape, community, species, and genetics. "Ecosystem integrity" is a related term, operating at the community and landscape levels, that addresses the ecological processes that are needed for ecosystems to function in a predictable manner. The focus of ecosystem management on integration of these ecological objectives with the best efforts of the social and economic objectives is what separates if from other natural resource management practices.
Special interest groups (hunters, fishermen, birders, wildflower enthusiasts, butterfly enthusiasts) often adopt narrow and polarized views on resource issues. When this occurs, both human interests and the natural resources can be, and often are, threatened. The spotted owl and the timber industry controversy in the Pacific Northwest forests, the agricultural interests and Everglades restoration/preservation debate in Florida, and the re-introduction of wolves to the yellow system are examples of this.
In the past few years conservationists and resource managers have recognized the need for a new approach to habitat and wildlife management. This approach calls for collaboration between groups, problem solving, and long-term care of our natural resources, which has led to the focus on management strategies commonly referred to as "ecosystem management." The implementation of this new "ecosystem management" based strategy is not yet completely defined, but the shift in why and how natural resources should be managed is beginning to take shape, and it can have beneficial and far-reaching effects for all outdoor lovers.
Ecosystem management is looking at a larger picture than we have looked at in the past. We need to look beyond municipal, county, state and federal agency boundaries, and work closely with land managers, in both the public and private sectors. We need to address the long-term consequences of today's decisions, and consider various resources, such as plant communities, wildlife or watersheds, as interrelating parts of a system, rather than as individual components to be managed separately. It means awareness of all of the components of the ecosystem, from local and national, to international and even global aspects.

The choices conservationists and land managers have to make won't go away. However, a fundamental principle of ecosystem management holds that decisions must be based on the best information science can provide, with sustainability as the goal. This framework provides a means to evaluate objectively the trade-off of different management choices.
More than just federal lands are at stake. We all live in ecosystems of multiple ownership, and the issues addressed on federal lands exist elsewhere. Everyone has a stake in working for diverse, healthy, sustainable ecosystems, and its going to take everyone's support and participation to make it all work.

In response to this article Fred Lesher of Wisconsin wrote:

My opinion is that "birders" are woefully lacking in effective group support of nature. Hunter & fishers, in contrast, are organized in various ways, and have lots to say about nature, as they understand it. However, their views are quite selfish.

I have spoken at public hearings on the Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Upper Mississippi R. F&W Refuge (Wabasha, MN to Rock Island, IL). A largely hunter/fisher crowd booed me in LaCrescent, MN at a hearing when I spoke up for more effort on the Refuge to conserve & protect passerine birds, migrant & resident, on the Refuge. "Do you buy fishing and/or hunting licenses?" was shouted at me from the mob. Well, yes I do, though I have not hunted for several years, and fish elsewhere, if I do, than the River.

And of course, the right to have an opinion and be heard does not depend on having purchased a license of any kind. Their attitude, and there were dozens of them, is that "We pay, therefore we say." I was told by a member of the crowd that public viewing platforms & auto pull-offs along the Refuge were an extravagance and a waste of money.

I believe that the Upper Mississippi River is a national treasure. It is not the Grand Canyon, but its wetlands & hardwood forest bottomlands & surrounding bluffland forests are not only breathing oxygen, they are presenting sentient human beings with beauty at all seasons and the grace of life other than whatever it is that human beings think they are doing. In my faithful opinion, human beings are dangerous creatures which may destroy the planet. Bird-chasing & listing is not supportive of the environment. It too is short-sighted & selfish.

Alas, I too listed & chased birds for at least 55 years, but I have to conclude that unless bird listers & chasers act and speak up for non-game birds, these birds will suffer. Of course, their numbers are diminishing, and they are suffering. Who cares?

Joel of Minnesota wrote:

After decades of birding I find I treasure the great experiences more than the numbers of species.

Fred of Wisconsin wrote:

Someone needs to speak out for non-game wildlife & habitat & the non-hunting/fishing public. I get very little support in my views, as far as I know, from anyone. USFWS folks do welcome my views. I think they are under huge pressure from the hunter/fisher lobby to yield on keeping most refuge boundaries & any limitations where, when, how to hunt on the Refuge the way they are.

To repeat, I do not hunt or fish on or even near the Upper Miss. Refuge, so I don't know details of hunter/fisher issues about boundaries & complications for their uses.

My birding has taken me up & down the River birding by car & on foot between Lake Pepin & Clinton, Iowa, Pools 4-13. I am most active birding along Pools 7-9. To my knowledge, no local or state National Audubon Society groups or other state & local birding groups have appeared at hearings about the Mississippi River Comprehensive Conservation Plan. These hearings were held within the past year or two up & down the Upper Miss. Refuge.

Earl wrote:

Thanks for posting this article. It's a good summary of the issues that are important for everyone who cares about the outdoors. I certainly agree with you that birders and nature lovers need to join together with hunters and anglers because we are all after the same thing; habitat preservation.

Joel wrote:

Our 15 acres is about 1 acre 'developed', 5 acres planted diverse prairie, 4 acres young trees and shrubs, 5 acres woods (mostly oak), plus a groundwater pond and intermittent stream. It provides pretty good habitat for a variety of species - just as we want it to. I retired early a couple years ago so that I could spend more time on nature oriented projects.

I advise Olmsted county on prairie management and restoration, give talks on butterflies, birds, prairie and native landscaping. Even with all that I do, I still have to wonder if my net affect on wildlife is positive. I do travel by air from time to time, and take several trips each year around the state and region to see birds and attend meetings. Each trip not only affects the area that I travel through, but also those areas that were used to produce the fuel and machines that I use.

I feel that our current culture is terribly selfish, materialistic and short-sighted. As with most people, my best memories are of experiences and relationships - not of material goods. And yet we seem to focus on getting more material goods, to the detriment of wildlife and our relation to the world.

Birders are part of this. Some birders are responsible and considerate, although often in a narrow sense. Others are frankly very self-centered, self-justifying, and narrow minded. We have to find better ways of living together with other people and with the rest of the creatures of the world.

There is only one earth, and we have to learn to share it better. Sorry about the ranting. It helps me to vent sometimes.

Thanks for caring about the broad whole of wildlife.

Another e-mail on the subject of habitat conservation:

Actually, I think the term "habitat conservation" has a different meaning for birders than it does for hunters.

Hunters conserve habitat so they have somewhere to hunt, whereas birders want to conserve habitat so that no one dies.

My Response: I'm sure there is a wide range of meanings and /or definitions of what habitat conservation is.

While it may be that hunters ant to preserve habitat primarily for hunting, they may be one of the largest influences behind "habitat conservation" for deer, turkeys and waterfowl; which in turn is habitat for hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, flowers plants and other species.

Many of the WMA's (Wildlife Management Areas) and possibly all of the WPA's (Waterfowl Production Areas) are there due in large part to the efforts of hunters. So, without them even thinking about it, their efforts to conserve habitat benefit many other species.

And then you can add the fact that the Federal Migratory Bird Licenses and State Waterfowl, Small Game, Upland Bird, Turkey, Deer, Bear, Elk, on and on and on Licenses, plus part of the taxes on firearms and ammunition, are dedicated to the Natural Resources Departments of US and each State, means there a literally thousands (if not hundreds of thousands nationally) of dollars paid out annually by hunters, trappers and fisherman, to preserve habitat.

So, hunters may have a right to "feel" they contribute a little more than their fair share when it comes to habitat conservation, because they contribute a lot. Which is they may get a little defensive when it comes to the views of birders, wildflower lovers, butterfly enthusiasts, and "tree huggers" (conservationists).

I'm not trying to say that hunters, trappers and fishermen knowingly help birds, flowers and butterflies, but the fact is they do help.

I suspect many birders may not realize how much habitat is conserved by, and due to, those who hunt and fish, as a result of their hunting and fishing. I also suspect some birders do realize it.

And while it may be true that some birders look at habitat conservation as it affects the earth, air pollution, ozone levels, carbon dioxide - oxygen exchanges, ozone levels etc, there are those who don't think about it at all, and are only interested in birds.

Having been a hunter for over 43 years, and being involved in the hunting industry, including guiding, designing camouflage and other products, writing articles and books, and giving seminars since 1989, I have to say that many hunters, trappers and fishermen don't think about species or habitats they can't of don't hunt, which may be seen as selfishness. I suspect it has more to do with single mindedness of purpose and ignorance, than with selfishness.

There are however, other hunters, who realize that there is more to habitat conservation than "game animals" and their "needs" for habitat conservation. I know I am not the only hunter who enjoys scenic areas, birds and butterflies.

So, I suppose there is a lot of education that needs to be done, before hunters, fishers, trappers and other nature lovers can see the benefits of each other's efforts when it comes to conservation. As an outdoor writer and seminar speaker I'm willing to try to educate all sides (in my own small way), and it looks like others here are doing their part to advance the cause of habitat conservation from the birders and /or nature lovers point of view. But, we can't do it alone. So - what are the rest of "us" (including all of you who love birds, flowers, butterflies etc.) going to do to help.

Do we need to meet with the MDHA Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association) which I write for, and the State Chapters of Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the National Turkey Federation, the Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse and Prairie Chicken Societies, Trout Unlimited, etc., all of which are contributing time, effort and dollars to habitat conservation? I suspect it might be a good idea for the lobbyists or "powers that be" of each of those groups already know each other, and may be working together, but we may have to educate the members and/or participators of each group and faction, so they understand the needs and desires, and the efforts and funds, that each contributes to conserve habitat. We need to find a way get through to each other, make each understand the broader impact and consequences of not doing anything, and the benefits of doing something, as an integrated group.

I think this exchange could make a good article in the MN DNR publications, as well as in Ornithological, Audubon, Isaac Walton, Sierra Club, Safari Club and other publications. And I will try to get it into them. The problem is once it goes into one publication; many other publications will not publish it. They all want "first rights" or "exclusive rights" and rarely want to "reprint" a "previously published" article.

However, since I write for over 40 Internet hunting web sites and magazines (two of which I own), I can send it out to them (if all else fails). So I can guarantee that it will be out there.

If anyone has nay pull with any publication, or know of other publications where this subject can be talked about and advanced, please post it here or contact me.

I think all of your comments should be posted here, so we all gain by the input.

Any other ideas?

(I think I feel another "cause" coming into my life.)

Another E-mail:

No one is ever going to convince me that any good ever comes out of killing animals for "sport".

Again, I have worked in retail, and have spoken first hand with hunters about this subject, and some of them did allude to the fact that having to pay to do their "sport" was something they were upset about. Some even referred to the people that make them buy a license as "tree huggers". There are also those hunters that buy "deer corn" and feed it to the deer, the deer then come to trust these people, then the people hunt them.

My response: You may not understand the fact that deer must be eliminated on a regular basis, or they will overpopulate and destroy habitat, which is needed by many species, including birds. The forbes wildflowers, herbs, grasses, sedges and leaves, berries, fruits and nuts they eat, are also eaten by birds and small mammals.

If deer overpopulate, they can eliminate much of the habitat and forage base, including reducing the forest under-story that is so vital to many birds.

Deer Licenses pay a large part of the DNR bill for wildlife management, which in turn helps birds. Deer hunting is needed to control deer populations, and the money generated by license sales are needed DNR funds.

As to feeding corn to deer; some people do it because they like to see deer (like birders use bird feeders). Some people feed deer to help them get through the winter, which in many cases they need help with. However, I must point out that deer that are hunted do not often "trust" the people who put our corn, they are way by nature, but some deer become semi-tame. And it is illegal to use corn as "bait" deer to come in to a hunter, thereby making it easy to shoot, Any hunter who feeds deer during the hunting season for the purpose of hunting is breaking the law, and should be prosecuted.

I'm not looking for "negatives" on other factions here, I'm looking for reasons why other factions should understand why they should listen to birders.

Another e-mail:

We do not share every view on the hunter/birder discussion. Saying that it is understandable that they get a "little defensive" about the views of "tree huggers" (including me) is a mis-statement. At the hearing I attended & at which I dared to speak my views, they were very offensive, rude & crude.

Unlike what your correspondent claims, that birders "want to preserve habitat so that no one dies," which is a typical stereotyping of those who care about the whole system, not primarily about game animals, many birders are well educated about the natural world.

I know that hunting & fishing licenses etc paid by those who hunt & fish make up a large share of moneys going to habitat preservation. But what percent also comes from what I think is called "general revenue sharing", coming from elsewhere among taxpayers? I don't think hunters & fishers pay for habitat preservation, including wildlife areas and parks, entirely on their own.

Our local "outdoor" writer for the La Crosse Tribune, Bob Lamb, is unfortunately strictly "hook & bullet" in his coverage of the "outdoors." And readers love it I guess. So at least locally in La Crosse, the so-called "outdoor" pages are lacking in anything close to "balanced" coverage of non-game outdoor activities. Bob Lamb, the "outdoor" writer loves bass tournaments & riding so fast in 60+ mph bass boats that the wind forces his mouth open and makes his eyes water.

I spare you my comments & observations about bass "tournaments" on the Mississippi River.

My response: The point about "so people or things don't die" I think was meant as a way of expressing that birders DO know more about the environment, and realize that if we do not save habitat, we all suffer.

My use of "little defensive" to describe hunters was just a way of saying they DO get offended, whether a lot of a little.

Any hunter who gripes about paying a license fee to hunt, can either put up or shut up. Pay up or quit.

The point I was making about hunter dollars and habitat is that they are one of the few groups that are taxed on the equipment they buy to pursue their interest. I do not believe birders are taxed on binoculars, bird feeders, books or other bird related equipment. Thus, hunters do have an argument that they pay more than other groups for habitat conservation. I believe that is an undisputed fact.

Add to that the fact that hunters also pay taxes to the General Fund, and they know they are paying twice. Where many other ou5door interest groups only pay once.

Not trying to start an argument, just point out the facts, as I know them. T.R.

I had a couple of thoughts on this subject.

1. I'm going to turn this into an article, which I will offer to such publications as the Volunteer, Safari Club, Ducks Unlimited, Isaac Walton League etc., plus the hunting/outdoor magazines I write for, and hope many of them publish it, so that all sides of the outdoor lovers equation see the others point of view. Hopefully the MN Volunteer will take it. Feel free to ask me to offer it to any magazine you think you can get it into.

The problem is once one magazine publishes it, most others won't. So, if any of you have any pull with any outdoor magazine let me know. Since I write for over 40 Internet web sites and e-magazines (two of which I own, publish and edit) I can guarantee it will go on the Internet (after I get it in some print magazine).

2. I'm going to contact the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (which I frequently write for) to see if and how they and other hunting organizations work with non-hunting organizations to conserve habitat.

Anyone else have any ideas how all conservationists can work together, and educate each other on the other's views, and why we need to work together, for the benefit of all of us and the animal and plant species.

3. If we are thinking primarily as birders, we have to think about habitat conservation in South America, where deforestation is a big problem. How does the bird community work and spend funds to conserve South American habitat?


Posted by T.R. Michels under Hunting on December 29, 08 03:22 PM | Permalink

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