Conservationists and hunters should talk more, but dialogue with the hunting lobby is not my favourite thing. I should qualify that. I do not mind talking with hunters. In fact, over the years I have had many a good conversation with hunters. The odd bad exchange too, but for the most part good ones, both while out in the countryside and on the sidelines of events and meetings. Discussions with responsible, sensible hunters who fully grasp that a good hunter must also be a conservationist. Who ‘get’ that proper protection and management of key habitats and the countryside in general benefits hunter and conservationist alike. Because that is what wildlife thrives off, simple as that. I like to think these hunters are in turn talking with a conservationist who, while he would never pretend to like hunting, accepts that hunting can be sustainable if properly managed. Controlled hunting can be compatible with wildlife conservation. It also needs to be, of course. (It is understood here, I hope, that this compatibility is not even remotely possible when it comes to the abomination that is bird trapping and illegal shooting).
Hunters and conservationists should be working together to push for proper protection of key sites and habitats. We should be joining forces to call for effective state support for wildlife-friendly, sustainable farming practices and for an end to policies that allow for random isolated development (be this housing, photovoltaics or anything else) popping up in the countryside.
That there is so much common ground to be found between those wielding shotguns and those holding binoculars (‘shooters’ and ‘watchers’, if you like) may come as a surprise. Especially to anyone who follows the public statements of environmental groups and, in particular, the stated positions on the local hunting lobby. [full article]