Just a thought: Why is it when the federal government, or any government entity for that matter, steps in to respond to irregularities in the system by imposing new regulations, you can expect an overload of stupid to accompany said efforts? And, as everyone knows, you can’t cure stupid – or vote it out, it would seem.
To illustrate, I took this information from a recycled copy of Safari Times passed on to me by Ron Dube, which contains a plea for common sense from the Zimbabwe Parks Director General regarding pending legislation in California making it illegal for residents of that state to possess certain trophy animals or parts thereof presentably obtainable in Africa legally.
Please bear with me on this as I feel the emotional and transparent thinking behind the legislation is similar to the manner in which many stateside Game and Fish departments, from the federal wildlife agency down, to include our own red shirts, are managed.
To begin with, Zimbabwe National Parks do not receive any government funding, which is why they have developed other methods of getting operating revenues to finance conservation. Among those methods, the most significant is international hunting tourism. The international hunting industry in particular is dominated by American hunters, and that international source of income has funded the recovery of several animal species and enhanced the rural economies of many African tribal systems.
Sound familiar? Wyoming’s hunting economy is likewise dominated by out-of-state hunters with large bank accounts and whose influence with G&F is way out of proportion to what resident hunters have. However, in our instance, we also have a federal government calling the shots while not contributing to the overall management costs of all the big game attrition they have caused.
On the face of it, the California Senate bill is designed to increase regulation on the importation of live animals for zoos, etc., in order to combat zoonotic diseases. Brought about, ostensibly, by the panic over COVID-19 and its animal host origin. However, the director general of the Zimbabwe National Parks claims the bill is, in reality, a smokescreen using the virus panic to disguise Democratic State Sen. Henry Stern’s decades-long goal of an import ban on all animals hunted abroad. In other words, eventually outlawing trophy hunters in California and perhaps eventually in the rest of the states from bringing their trophies home. It would essentially be destroying the hunting industry both abroad and possibly here.
I agree with the Zimbabwe National Parks director. If the COVID-19 situation has illustrated nothing else this year to anyone with a modicum of sense, it has illustrated how interconnected everyone working in the economy is, on every level, and how an elimination of even minor incomes here and there will negatively affect everyone’s incomes to some degree. It’s a perfect example of the “butterfly effect.”
In the director’s words: “It is sad that such legislation about African species is crafted far away from Africa and without input from the affected Africans. Our generation has witnessed unprecedented decimation of wildlife and habitat due to a misguided mentality that non-consumptive tourism, such as photography safaris, is the panacea (the answer) for all conservation and sustainable financial requirements. It is not.”
It’s the drivel about the benefits of non-consumptive tourism, as in how wolf watching by park tourists is worth the losses our ranchers take to their livestock. Or how non-comsumptive tourism will pay the bills of people whose incomes depend of the abundance of big game animals, like hunting outfitters, big game guides, and shed antler hunters, and are not being compensated by these tourists or anyone else by the loss in income caused by the utter destruction of those herds by wolves and grizzly bears.
These people don’t understand how the lack of elk and other big game animals, their populations decimated by the wolves, affect the incomes of mom and pop outfitters and the guides they hire and the people in local rural communities who the outfitters depend on for logistical support. Fewer elk mean fewer hunters, especially non-residents, means less money spent at motels, restaurants, bars, tips for waitresses, airplane tickets, cab fare, sporting goods shops, etc. Money spent in a hundred different ways, from gasoline and bullets to taxidermy or even horseshoe nails, affecting hundreds of local peoples’ incomes. Money not compensated by the relatively few low-wage jobs generated by ecotourism.
The alternate reality is that eco-tourists or even the animal rights organizations aren’t going to shell out big bucks to fight CWD or Blue Tongue, or even habitat destruction through wildlife mismanagement, but hunters are, will and have over the decades. I’ve seen it and they have. After all, it was hunters who financed the recovery of the duck, goose, swan etc., habitat and waterfowl populations in this country by buying duck stamps even when they didn’t plan on hunting. It sure wasn’t the ecotourists or the greenies or their “Save the Critters” organizations that brought back pintails, wood ducks, red heads and canvasbacks.
Along those same lines, it was the National Turkey Federation, an organization composed of concerned turkey hunters, that jump started real turkey populations in this country by doing the leg work and financing transplants of flocks of wild turkeys even in states with traditionally unoccupied habitat. A traditional hunting resource either restored or initiated where none existed previously. Hunters are doers who put their money and efforts where their mouths are, unlike the “green” organizations composed primarily, in my opinion, of fundraising, self-serving takers and opportunists, feeding off a gullible and concerned public. Sometimes with the support of certain elements in the Game and Fish departments.
Don’t even get me started on wolves and the political hanky-panky that dropped that bovine effluent in our laps. Initially the concept of the ESA was a grand idea, then we gave the federal government a blank check of sorts allowing them to rupture and mishandle the endangered portion of the act and if you wonder why, all one has to do is to follow the money to the people who stand to make more over actually administrating or litigating the ESA than to supporting a realistic approach to wild and endangered animal husbandry.
Now, it’s about poisoning our Wyoming streams and lakes to install a substitute trout for a supposedly endangered one. Really? Somewhere this deception is making someone a lot of money.