I owe my carreer to the sport of hunting. As a young man, barely 12 year old, my father and I hunted pheasants, squirrels, rabbits and deer. I have to say for my part mostly without success ( my father was a much better hunter), but i will always remember the thrill of the hunt, the profund experience of killing an animal and satisfaction of eating my valued prey, enjoying all over again the experience of the day. I hunted all my life, stopping only because my career gave me other ways of pursuing animals, now it is cannon netting, but I am an avid supporter of hunting.
I became a wildlife biologist because hunting introduced me to the world of wildlife management. My heros as a young biolgist were Aldo Leopold, Paul Errington and other lessor known game biolgists who pionoeered the science of insuring game populations thrived as they provided millions with the joy I felt as a young hunter. Game management, is in many ways the most advanced form of wildife science, and for the most part game populaitons are the most secure wildlife in our nation. All of this is because North American hunters accepted the profund responsibility to replace what they kill by insuring superior habitat and populaiton manageement.
Now we are confronted with the unregulated hunting of shorebirds in the Carribean and northern South America. In the French protectorates of the lessor Antilles and French Guiana, the French goverment condones the hunting of shorebirds but doesn’t help hunters understand the need and responsibility to manage that which they kill.
I understand the difficulty they face. Although I am too young to know when North American game were hunted to near extinction, as a young game biologist in Gerogia, i worked with the men who did remember the fight to end this slaugter. Then too it was everyone’s right to kill game regardless of the impact on populations. It had to end for everyones sake, the hunters and the game. It seems now the challege in this section of the world is not to just to stop the killing of shorebirds, but to help hunters see it is in everyones interest to give voice to wildlife and manage them responsibly.