January 26, 2018

Why Hunting is Shrinking, and How to Fix It

By Natalie Krebs/Outdoor Life
Photo by Pacific Southwest Region USFWS/flickr
You probably rejoice  when you spend an entire day afield without bumping into another hunter. Encountering strangers—especially when they’ve stumbled across your secret spot—spoils the solitude we seek in the outdoors.
So you’d be hard-pressed to find any sportsman or -woman who wants more competition in the woods. Yet, more hunters is precisely what we need right now.

Here’s why: Baby boomers make up our nation’s largest cohort of hunters, and they’ve already begun to age out of the sport. Within 15 years, most will stop buying licenses entirely. And when they do, our ranks could plunge by 30 percent—along with critical funding for wildlife management, advocacy for hunting, and a tradition that’s probably pretty important to you. In other words, the clock is ticking. And unless we act now, we might not recover from the fallout.

Seeing Greater Beauty: A Conversation with Jim Posewitz
Backwoods Hunters & Anglers
Author, biologist, ethicist, historian and legendary conservationist, Jim Posewitz is the foremost expert on conservation history and fair chase hunting.

He founded  Orion – The Hunter’s Institute  and has  penned five books : Beyond Fair Chase, Inherit the Hunt, Rifle in Hand, Taking a Bullet for Conservation and his soon-to-be-released memoir, My Best Shot.

He recently spoke to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers about his career, the concept of fair chase hunting, the role of public lands in conservation, and the future.
In Africa, Geneticists
Are Stalking Poachers
By Gina Kolata/The New York Times
Photo by Jon Mountjoy/flickr
South African authorities long had eyes on Rogers Mukwena. They knew the former schoolteacher was wanted in Zimbabwe for poaching rhinoceroses and selling their horns, which can command hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He’d jumped bail and fled to northern Pretoria, but it was vexingly difficult to catch and prosecute him — until a scientist helped make the case against him with rhino DNA.

His subsequent conviction resulted from a new tactic in wildlife preservation: The genetic fingerprinting methods that have been so successful in the criminal justice system are now being used to solve poaching crimes.
21 st Century Tactics Turn Rice Fields Into Wetlands
By Brandon Keim/Anthropecene
Photo by Nigel Goodman/flickr
For thousands of years the inland lowlands of California were a vast chain of wetlands where migatory waterfowl lingered each spring and fall, taking sustenance on their extraordinary inter-hemispheric journeys. Settlement changed all that: between the late 18th and late 20th century, people drained more than 90% of those wetlands.

It might be possible, though, for shorebirds and farmers to coexist.  Writing in the journal Ecological Applications , researchers led by ecologist Greg Golet of the Nature Conservancy describe an innovative program that pays Central Valley rice farmers to manage their fields as temporary wetlands during migration. “Migratory species face great challenges due to climate change, conversion of historical stopover sites, and other factors,” they write, “but dynamic conservation programs offer promise that, at least in certain instances, their needs can still be met.”

Called BirdReturns, it’s not the first pay-for-nature program — perhaps the best-known is the Conservation Reserve Program, which reimburses U.S. farmers for removing land from production — but adds 21st-century sophistication: data gathered by bird-watchers helps identify precisely where migrating birds most need habitat, which the Nature Conservancy then rents from rice farmers who leave fields flooded when they’d typically be drained.
Why Are Our Lakes and Streams Getting Saltier?
By Brady Dennis/The Washington Post
Photo by Claire Rowland/flickr
Nearly everywhere you turn during winter, much of the world seems covered in a layer of salt aimed at keeping our roads drivable and sidewalks free of ice. All that salt is one reason — although not the only one — that many of the nation’s rivers and streams are becoming saltier, according  to new research published  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Increased salt poses risks to drinking-water supplies for millions of Americans, threatens urban infrastructure, and has the potential to upend ecosystems.
“The fact it is occurring so widely surprised us,” said Gene Likens, an author of the new study who is a University of Connecticut professor and president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. “The impacts we humans are having on natural systems are really widespread.”
“How kind it is that most of us will never know when we have fired our last shot.”

- Nash Buckingham
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