Compassionate Conservation (from Medwid to Perich to here).

Post date: Dec 14, 2014 9:24:42 PM

I guess Shawn Perich's "devil in the details" column last week in Outdoor News (Perich 2014, in response to Medwid, 2014) was an opportunity for him to recite the pledge of allegiance, or something, to the hunting and angling community. In a way I understand, but in another, it needs a bit of balancing.

The condemnation that this column doled out to advocates and politicians for not trying hard enough to understand each others' points of view could well be applied to the column, itself. And, frankly, its early attempt to adopt a bipartisan tone failed as soon as the details started to appear.

Statements in the Perich column.

1) Hunters and anglers support the lion's share of fish and wildlife management.

2) Folks who don't hunt and fish have shown little enthusiasm for supporting fish and wildlife management.

3) A national effort to establish an excise tax on outdoor gear failed, without anyone trying to revive it.

4) The MN Legacy Amendment dedicates a small percentage of sales tax...

5) (No mention of MN Lottery funding for the environment, nor organizations like Nature Conservancy, etc.)

6) Folks who don't hunt and fish have shown little... (oh, yeah, that was already stated.)

7) For example, wolf management: recreational wolf hunting & trapping seasons will not diminish the population.

8) For example, wolf management: recreational wolf hunting & trapping may reduce wolf/human conflicts.

9) None of the critics of the existing wildlife-management model have proposed a better alternative.

10) None of the critics of the existing funding model have proposed a practical alternative.

11) Before changes would be considered, a better wildlife-management model--including financing--would be required.

12) Changing management priorities may have terrible, unintended consequences! (Be very afraid!)

13) Only fishermen really care about fish.

14) Before changes would be considered, non-hunters and non-anglers would need to recognize that hunters and anglers might have a deeper appreciation and commitment to conservation (presumably, that recognition would be incorporated into the governance system so that hunters and anglers would retain the majority of power).

SS-Slocum's quick responses to the above statements.

1) Why is this boast always made without a reference? A couple of references to the contrary include what seems to be a thorough piece by Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management (Smith and Molde 2014) and my own amateur examination of the MN DNR budget (Slocum 2014). Of course, the conclusions each person reaches depend on his definitions and relative valuations of "fish and wildlife management" and its related areas (that is, the areas he considers to be related). For example, non-hunters and non-anglers aren't likely to consider funding to be "related" when it goes for shooting ranges, sportsmen's clubs, hunter recruitment & retention; or partisan lobbying, public relations, or education, etc. On the other hand, hunters and anglers might not consider funding to be "related" when it goes for soil & water conservation, pollution control, non-game wildlife programs, or other programs of the MN DNR or other State agencies.

2) Check out organizations like The Nature Conservancy for examples to the contrary.

3) Certainly, there have been other initiatives at the State and Federal levels to provide more general funding for conservation. I'm not aware of all the issues that might have been raised regarding a federal excise tax on outdoor gear, but I suppose there were would have been some questions about how to apply that tax to clothing? That would have been a pretty big area of retail sales to approach with a new tax. By the way, the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition is not levied on sportsmen alone, but also on target shooters and everyone who has been caught up in the huge, recent home-defense and permit-to-carry movement.

4) MN Legacy Amendment--small? Appropriations of $100 million proposed for 2015 (Albert 2014). Small?

5) Other sources of non-consumptive conservationist funding overlooked?

6) Folks who don't hunt and fish have shown little... (oh, yeah, already responded to that.)

7) Compassionate Conservationists are interested in much more than survey counts; when and where we can, we want to leave wildlife alone.

8) Recreational wolf hunting & trapping may--but are not primarily designed to--reduce wolf/human conflicts in some cases, increase those conflicts in others, but probably have no effect in the majority of cases. Compassionate Conservationists favor non-lethal control, education in coexistence, etc.--with selective killing as a method of last resort.

9) Check out the Wolf Data Bill (Hawj et al. 2014) and the MN Wolf Management Plan (“MN Wolf Management Plan” 2001).

10) See responses #3, #4 and #5 above.

11) There is the question of which comes first: new ideas, or funding for new ideas? Like the question of "the chicken or the egg?"

12) It is possible to maintain existing systems (as backups in changed areas, or as interim programs in areas pending change) while changes are developed and deployed.

13) See responses #3, #4, #5, and #10 above.

14) Yes, to the part about mutual respect and cooperation. No, to the perpetual minority-rule of sportsmen over conservation.


Albert, Joe. 2014. “In the Pipeline: $100 Million for Conservation.” Outdoor News MN, October 31.

Hawj, Foung, Chris Eaton, John Marty, Jason Isaacson, Susan Allen, Paul Rosenthal, Yvonne Selcer, Raymond Dehn, and Linda Slocum. 2014. MN 2014 SF 2256 / HF 2680: Wolf Management Provisions Modifications.

Medwid, Walter. 2014. “Time for Change in Managing Vermont’s Wildlife.” VT Digger. November 21.

“MN Wolf Management Plan.” 2001. MN DNR.

Perich, Shawn. 2014. “Always, the Devil Is in the Details.” Outdoor News, December 5.

Slocum, Scott. 2014. “Who Are the MN DNR’s Primary Constituents?” SS-Slocum. February 20.

Smith, Mark E., and Donald A. Molde. 2014. Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the U.S. Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management.

Part of the VT Digger logo (Medwid's article).

Part of the VT Digger logo (Medwid's article).