British Columbia, home to more than 15,000 grizzly bears, suddenly banned hunting those bears this week. A ban on “trophy hunting” was announced back in August, but this new ban prohibits hunting the grizzly for food (with the exception of the native First Peoples tribes). There is no scientific benefit or game management benefit to ending the hunt, as even the government acknowledges that habitat loss is the biggest threat to the grizzlies, not hunters. This is simply a feel-good measure that will do no good at all. And, frankly, given that some human beings are still allowed to hunt under this measure, the British Columbian government’s decision reeks of political correctness.
These types of feel-good measures aren’t just happening in the wilds of British Columbia. The Washington Post recently covered an amazing exercise in mental gymnastics on the part of some anti-hunters in the Washington, D.C., area. At the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Md., volunteers recently lined up to shoo the deer away from the 40-acre property. As the paper put it, “If you work for a naturalist society and your job is to restore a nature sanctuary eaten alive by ravenous deer, your options for eradicating the pesky but otherwise charming creatures are somewhat limited. For instance, you can’t kill them.”
So instead of hunting, more than 100 individuals walked the length of the nature preserve, driving the deer towards a gate in the new $250,000 eight foot fence the naturalist society recently erected around their property. Once through the gate, the deer were funneled across the street and into the District of Columbia’s Rock Creek Park.
I’m sure the volunteers feel great about their efforts to relocate the deer. After all, the critters were destroying the environment in the nature preserve, and now they’ll get to live out their lives in the vast expanse of a local park. Who wouldn’t feel good about that? There’s just one problem: Those volunteers didn’t do any good at all. You see, Rock Creek Park currently has about three times more deer than the park can support, and hunting at night began earlier this month and will continue through March of next year. At best these animal lovers increased the stress that deer are placing on Rock Creek Park, and the chances are good that many of the deer peacefully pushed out of Woodend Sanctuary are going to die in Rock Creek Park, either a merciful death at the hands of paid hunters or the prolonged agony of dying from starvation or disease.
There’s just one problem: Those volunteers didn’t do any good at all.As it turns out, the real do-gooders here are the employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who will be hunting the deer during the cold winter nights. Of course, there’s no real reason why we have to pay government employees to thin the number of deer in the park. There are plenty of hunters who would pay good money for the chance to legally harvest game in our nation’s capitol, but that seems unlikely to happen in Washington, D.C., without a furious fight.
While the deer will be culled and the responsible game management will be done by government employees in Rock Creek Park, across the country millions of American hunters are doing good by harvesting deer themselves. Not only are wildlife populations stabilized at healthy levels, food banks throughout the nation are gratefully receiving valuable protein in the form of venison, thanks to programs like NRA’s Hunters for the Hungry. That’s doing some real good in communities big and small.
These animal-loving Audubon volunteers have their hearts in the right place, but they need to open their eyes to the reality of wildlife management. Building a high fence to keep the deer away doesn’t actually fix the problem of having too many deer in too small a space. It just means the deer will become a bigger problem somewhere else. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not very helpful when it comes to actual conservation efforts. As it turns out, for that, you’re going to need a good guy or gal with a gun.
Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.