The title would seem like an oxymoron and the anti-hunting community would have you believe that the two words in the title of the post ARE antithetical, but everything I know about conservation says that it just isn't true.
The fact of the matter is that unless there is money to be made, a species just isn't going to survive and that the same anti-gun, anti-hunter community that presses for more restrictive legislation typically are not willing to put their wallets where there gaping, ignorant pie-holes lead. I don't see them clamoring about habitat encroachment, but that is exactly what is causing wildlife reductions globally.
However, leave it to the hunters to not only care about habitat, but to also put their dollars on the table to ensure that it happens. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's website, hunters annually pay $372 MILLION towards conservation, and that in less than 60 years, have totalled over $5.5 BILLION towards conservation efforts.
So that's dollars, but what about animals. In the early 1990's, there were an estimated 100,000 wild turkeys in America...today, through conservation efforts, there are an estimated 4.5 MILLION. Yes, I've killed one, but my dollars have ensured that countless others have lived.
The same holds for deer. In 1900, there were less than 500,000 deer in the nation. Now, because deer are the most popular game animal, there are 18 MILLION. If it weren't for hunters, the deer would probably be extinct.
I'm not trying to convince the anti-hunters out there that hunting should be permitted...(well, actually, I am, but this is my blog, so tough). That being said, the last time I checked, this is the United States and we are free to pursue those activities that we wish. In fact, I feel it is my duty to ensure that hunting and gun ownership remains legal and accessible. I respect the anti's freedom to do the opposite, but make sure that you are informed. The species you believe you are helping may actually suffer from your efforts.
Numerous studies prove that if you want to ensure a species survival, allow it to be hunted. Once you do that, conservation efforts go into effect to make sure the species remains economically viable.
Hunters win, conservationists win, and most of all...
...the species wins.
NB - I took the online portion of the Texas Hunter Education class today. It was very interesting, somewhat informative, and most important - required to hunt in Utah. Although I am old enough to be exempt in Texas, I am not old enough for Utah - and since we are planning a duck hunt there within the next couple of months, I need to complete hunter education. Next step, the field class.