Unless people have a first-person experience with hunting and fishing these days, they often won’t learn what sportsmen do for wildlife. In fact, the truth about hunting has become so politically incorrect that to determine if a politician is environmentally friendly the mainstream media looks no further than “The National Environmental Scorecard,” a rating system concocted before each Congressional election by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a Democratic-partisan organization whose issues revolve around climate change, opposition to domestic oil and gas development and getting legislators to pass regulations, such as stricter vehicle-emissions standards. If a politician passes this liberal litmus test, then they’re “green.” If they don’t, then they’re deemed to be in league with the polluters, the environmental destroyers, and, ah, the hunters.
You see, the LCV doesn’t consider critical issues such as deer management, state wildlife program funding, wetland preservation, habitat restoration and other quantitative conservation efforts to be worthy of its environmental rating. This shuns sportsmen because sportsmen are the ones who implement and pay for those real-world conservation projects. As a result, a congressman who voted to expand the Conservation Reserve Program, backed additional funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, and fought to keep the Clean Water Act strong, might be labeled anti-environment because he or she thought it was hypocritical for the United States to import oil while passing blanket restrictions on offshore oil drilling.
The mainstream media doesn’t point out this disparity. The resulting media spin is so deceitful that even in these environmentally conscious times most Americans don’t know that by paying Pittman-Robertson surtaxes on guns, ammunition, and other gear, hunters sent $294,691,282 to state conservation programs in 2005—or that hikers, mountain bikers, and environmentalists don’t pay those conservation taxes. Most people aren’t even aware that monies from sportsmen and shooters is used to purchase critical wetland habitat and to fund wildlife research in every state. Or that hunters are instrumental in controlling deer and other game populations, and that without hunting more people would die in deer-auto collisions, farmers would have to reduce wildlife habitat to fend off depredating wildlife and so much more. Sportsmen are conservationists even if they don’t know it.
For more from Frank Miniter, check out The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting.