November 13, 2009

HUNTING AND FISHING: AN IDAHO AND AMERICAN HERITAGE

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us"
-Theodore Roosevelt

Each year, thousands of Idahoans head outdoors to hunt, fish, camp and hike or simply enjoy Idaho's beautiful scenery and wildlife. The first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, said, "There are just two things on this material earth---people and natural resources." As co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, and as ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Wildlife and Water, much of my time is spent on issues involving fish, wildlife, water, and the land itself. I also enjoy hunting and fishing and greatly appreciate this part of Idaho's culture and heritage. I hunt and fish because it is thrilling to be in the outdoors and enjoy this great Idaho tradition with family and friends.

Sportsmen have brought great benefits for all who enjoy the great outdoors. If you love wildlife, you should thank sportsmen first because they were first to advocate for wildlife. History shows, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many game species were in trouble, and sportsmen were the first to voice concern for species conservation and the first to consider how to do it. They insisted on rules and systems of hunting and fishing, and they were willing to pay for it. Sportsmen like President Theodore Roosevelt promoted rules of "fair chase" and periods when wildlife would be allowed to rest, grow and reproduce. Roosevelt established the Boone and Crocket Club, which was followed by many other sportsmen's groups that advocate for hunting and the management of wildlife as a renewable and precious resource

We should also thank landowners and wildlife managers. Without planning and vision, we would not have the abundant, healthy wildlife populations we have today. Private landowners have vital winter range and habitat with water, cover and all the necessary resources for fish and wildlife. Idaho law directs the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to manage our wildlife resources for the benefit of all and for the maximum benefit of hunting, fishing and trapping. Thousands of Idahoans enjoy these activities and look forward with anticipation and excitement to each season. Our state does a good job of managing all species in perpetuity as sustained and renewable natural resources.

Wildlife populations, in general, are stable or increasing, which is remarkable amidst a growing human population. Deer, elk, antelope, bears, mountain lions, pheasants, ducks and many other species are abundant in Idaho. Wildlife managers partner with sportsmen and landowners for the good of wildlife and historic uses of the land. It is a system that benefits all involved. And it is the end result of a process started by sportsmen, who wanted to see wildlife and habitat preserved for the benefit of future generations of hunters, fishermen and women and all who enjoy nature.

As a U.S. Senator and a hunter and fisherman, I applaud the work of sportsmen, landowners, and wildlife managers, and I will continue to work to protect our right to our hunting heritage. We should all be grateful to live in a land of such diverse and abundant species. For more on hunting, fishing, wildlife and Idaho's beautiful natural resources, please go to http://crapo.senate.gov.

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