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Blood sports good for endangered species?


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This question was posted on the list serve of the Ecological Society of America (the #1 professional ecological group in the US and probably the world).

 

I think the post was more or less a "points to ponder" kind of comment, but it does raise some interesting questions. Personally, I think the post has the question just a bit off kilter. Hunted and fished species CAN BE a huge boon for the ecosystems they inhabit, but it's probably not realistic to build blood sports on the back of endangered species. In my opinion, organizations like the ISA fill this kind of niche exactly. By helping steward the ecosystems where we fish, we ensure that not only smallmouth bass, but other species that have evolved to live with smallmouth bass have suitable habitat now and into the future.

 

Here's the post.

 

This is a really interesting point. I wrote an article about Louisiana black

bears about a year ago, a threatened subspecies of American black bear. I

spent a week in the field while biologists relocated bear mommas and cubs to

a different habitat in efforts to expand their range. One comment by one of

the people there that week was that "the best thing that could happen to the

LA black bear is to make it a game species." Hunters channel a lot of funds

that ultimately (usually) go into conservation.

 

I'd be curious to know how MUCH money exactly has been channeled into

conservation through hunting of various species - particularly somewhat rare

species hunted in a limited manner? And in what types of scenarios does

funding generated from hunting/fishing of rare species outweigh the

conservation efforts obtained by listing the species as threatened or

endangered?

 

I know, for example, in Texas they give out a very small number of very

high-priced permits to hunt bighorn sheep - and as I understand it, a lot of

this money goes to conservation/management. I've been told the species is

rare enough to be listed as threatened, but as far as I know no "stink" has

been raised about the issue by any group. I would think that the money from

hunting a few benefits the overall conservation more than putting it on the

ESA.

 

Likewise, Guadalupe Bass, Texas' state fish is nearly extinct IF You

consider hybrids not really Guads. Pretty much all Guadalupe bass have

hybridized with their introduced cousins - smallmouth and largemouths.

(There is one pure population which, ironically, was introduced outside of

its range). But listing this species on the ESA would not only be an utterly

logistical nightmare (distinguishing them from stocked fish? Nearly

impossible if you're talking about genetics and not morphology) it would

probably NOT be the most beneficial thing for the species. Any thoughts? Any

other similar cases? This has the makings of a great article :)

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This question was posted on the list serve of the Ecological Society of America (the #1 professional ecological group in the US and probably the world).

 

I think the post was more or less a "points to ponder" kind of comment, but it does raise some interesting questions. Personally, I think the post has the question just a bit off kilter. Hunted and fished species CAN BE a huge boon for the ecosystems they inhabit, but it's probably not realistic to build blood sports on the back of endangered species. In my opinion, organizations like the ISA fill this kind of niche exactly. By helping steward the ecosystems where we fish, we ensure that not only smallmouth bass, but other species that have evolved to live with smallmouth bass have suitable habitat now and into the future.

 

Here's the post.

 

It is always hard to compare hunting and fishing though they are both "blood sports." The article makes the "Ducks Unlimited" argument as applied to LA Black Bears. DU always says that the duck hunters have done more for ducks than anyone else. It is in the hunter's best interest to keep the population of the prey that they hunt in good condition.

 

I am not sure it is the same with the LA Bear. As prey for the hunt, that animal seems to be too close to extinction to experiment with an open season. There is an intricate logic that says, with the hope of an open season in the distant future, today's hunters might take on the cause of protecting the bear and improving its habitat today. Are such hunters around?

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Interesting points Mike, although I think the writer is genuinely asking a question rather than taking a stance. This was a list-serve posting after all.

 

The article makes the "Ducks Unlimited" argument as applied to LA Black Bears. DU always says that the duck hunters have done more for ducks than anyone else.

 

Ducks Unlimited have done a lot for ducks it's true. In my view, their overall effect has been highly positive. Unfortunately, there have been times in some quarters that they have also been unwilling to discuss broadening their focus to include say...oh...FISH...in their management plans.

 

The pumps on the big rivers run for the benefit of ducks and waterfowl. In those management approaches, all the other species barely get consideration. There are biologists who are still wearing scars from suggesting that riverine water management should mimic the natural seasonal cycle to allow fish reproduction there rather than merely optimizing off-channel forage for ducks.

 

This is a trap I would like to see the ISA avoid. Smallmouth are PART of the system, and their value as a sport fish is enhanced when they can be caught in a diverse, sustainable ecosystem.

 

This is why smallmouth introductions in the west should be vigorously opposed by the ISA. Those smallmouth eat native trout and salmon and cause serious problems. Is it worth causing local species to go extinct just so you can fish a particular stream for smallmouth?

 

There is an intricate logic that says, with the hope of an open season in the distant future, today's hunters might take on the cause of protecting the bear and improving its habitat today. Are such hunters around?

 

Bear populations were probably not the best for this author to bring into this discussion. She did so because her experience in this area was with a person who said bear would benefit from being hunted, but bear introductions are a political firestorm.

 

Certainly hunters have done quite a bit to restore white tailed deer, wild turkey and many other game species.

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