From Making Tracks, The Wildlife Society Blog:
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have announced the creation of a special advisory committee, the Wildife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council. Secretary Salazar stated: “Theodore Roosevelt understood the vital role that hunting plays in American life, as well as the importance of protecting lands and wildlife to sustain that tradition…The early efforts of America’s hunters and anglers to preserve our nation’s wildlife heritage fueled the modern conservation movement and left us the natural bounty we are now entrusted with protecting.”
Having been to two direct meetings with Secretary Salazar in the past few weeks, I believe that he is sincere in his support of wildlife and habitat conservation, and in his dedication to and support of America’s sportsmen and women. It is clear that he believes that conservation should be a non-partisan issue that appeals to politicians on both sides of the aisle. In that, he is very much in line with TWS’ core policies and beliefs. TWS is currently working on technical reports on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the Public Trust Doctrine and is also planning on developing a supplemental issue of The Wildife Professional focused on the role of hunting in wildlife and habitat conservation.
TWS has also, in the best Leopoldian tradition, challenged some aspects of modern hunting, based on science, including some aspects of baiting and feeding, and the use of lead ammunition. It is currently working on a technical report on predator control to artificially augment ungulate populations.
Strengthening North America’s proud hunting heritage will not only involve promotion of the rich tradition, but also its ethics and conservation role. Modern hunting practices should be compatible with conservation, animal welfare, ecological principles, and ethics of fair chase. However, hunting has become critical in controlling numbers of some over-abundant species, such as deer and snow geese and destructive invasive species, such as nutria and feral pigs. Perhaps most important is its role as a source of essential funding to support conservation of both game and non-game species, especially at the state and provincial level.