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LETTERS: Hunters, trappers key to management

To the editor:

A lot of people would love to make wildlife management an environmental issue. If it becomes one, hunting and trapping will be gone, and so will the funding that comes with them. Every management decision will be a popularity contest. Cute, cuddly animals will get what little money there is. Grotesque, scary or shy creatures will disappear, or grow out of control and become a big problem.

No other group does more for wildlife conservation than hunters and trappers. Don’t think so? Just look at the plight of the African elephant. According to a June 16 NPR report, wild populations of African elephants will be extirpated by 2040. Why? Because international wildlife nongovernment organizations don’t have the popular support and access to funding that regulated hunting could have provided for them.

On the other hand, the North American model of wildlife management works because of its government/sportsman partnership. Seriously, where else in the world can you get ordinary citizens to pay for the privilege of working for the government? Hunting and trapping help control populations and solve wildlife-related problems that are too big and expensive for wildlife agencies to handle on their own. Hunters voluntarily tax themselves through licenses, tags, stamps and a tax on firearms, as well as on ammunition and archery tackle (Pittman-Robertson funds), totaling more than $1 billion in 2013.

Plus, dedicated hunters and trappers raise millions of dollars and work on projects every year to improve habitat for all wildlife. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey of American attitudes on hunting, fishing and wildlife, 95 percent of all Americans — including many hunters — have no clue about the role that hunting and trapping play in wildlife management. These folks don’t know anything about wildlife and don’t really want to worry about it.

And the more urbanized America becomes, the more obtuse public opinions about wildlife become. It’s a fact that can be easily seen right here in Nevada. Most Nevada citizens are relative newcomers, moving from a big city to a big city. They’ll likely never stray outside the city they live in. Consequently, wildlife encounters in their urban bubble will range from flabbergasting to horrifying, depending on the critter.

So who should have a say in how wildlife is managed? One of the pillars of the North American wildlife management model is to let the science do the talking. Of course, wildlife management isn’t a perfect science. When human beings are introduced into any process, so is an element of emotion. At a Utah Wildlife Board meeting, reams of scientific data were tossed out because a 13-year-old wouldn’t turn 14 by the season opener and couldn’t hunt ducks with his dying grandpa. And a fledgling Sandhill Crane hunt was finished off by persistent anti-hunters, nipping at the edges for six seasons.

Thank goodness there are hunters and trappers with the time and energy to be vigilant, or the 95 percent of Americans who couldn’t care less would let the small minority of those who strongly disapprove of hunting have their way.

LES SMITH

SPARKS

‘Redskins’ a slur

To the editor:

Robert Mann argues in his letter that the issue of the name of Washington’s NFL team is simply a matter of political correctness gone amok. His position is nonsense. Why is it so hard for Mr. Mann to see that the term “redskin” is a slur against a group of real people, people with feelings, Native Americans?

Would Mr. Mann make the same argument for team names that use offensive terms to describe Jews or the Chinese? What part of “slur” does Mr. Mann not understand? His use of the word “angel” does not meet the slur test.

RICHARD L. STRICKLAND

LAS VEGAS

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