Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb
As much as I embrace learning, rest assured I won’t be studying at the Humane Society University.
According to a U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance press release, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) plans to educate the next generation of anti-hunting, animal rights activists now that it has received “a license as a higher education degree-granting institution by the District of Columbia Education Licensure Commission.”
The Humane Society University plans to offer on-site and Internet courses including those devoted to advocacy. A potential activist can become a “Certified Advocacy Management Specialist” by completing five courses that focus on research and planning, influencing corporate behavior, message development, becoming a citizen lobbyist and building a grassroots movement.
While I know there are educational opportunities for those entering wildlife and fisheries professions, will there be advocacy training for our nation’s hunters, anglers, trappers and target shooters?
I learned something else last week. While I didn’t expect to hear back about how peregrine falcon restoration was funded, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) took me up on my request for information and responded back to me two days after my blog was posted. Getting the answers took a fair amount of digging, according to the agency’s media relations senior editor.
First, FWC’s 2009 Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration dollars (from excise taxes on firearms and ammunition) combined with 2008/2009 hunting license and permit revenue totals $14.7 million or 4.5 percent of the total agency budget. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, if someone suggested the agency cut their budget by that amount, it would likely cause concern.
However, it’s not perfectly clear whether or not Wildlife Restoration money was part of the mix when it came to peregrine restoration. Nongame Wildlife Trust Funds, which come from fees for previously owned vehicles titled in Florida for the first time and a portion of speeding fines, also might have been used. The agency can confirm peregrine restoration dollars came mainly from Section. 6 funds, which are federal tax dollars appropriated through the endangered species act. Bradley J. Gruver, Ph.D., of the FWC’s Species Conservation Planning Section has this to say:
“It really is not as simple as a particular source being the primary source of funds for the recovery. The peregrine was added to the federal endangered species list in 1970 (under the Endangered Species Conservation Act, the predecessor to the 1973 Endangered Species Act [ESA]) and removed from the ESA in 1999. Over those 29 years, many things funded from many sources contributed to the peregrine’s recovery. Probably the single most important thing in the peregrine’s recovery was the banning of DDT by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1972 under authority granted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. I don’t believe it would be possible to credit any one particular source for such an act.
“Other contributors to the peregrine’s recovery were protection and enhancement of habitat, minimizing disturbance and mortality, monitoring contaminants (DDT), and reintroducing captive-bred birds to the wild. Many states use Section 6 funds and Pittman-Robertson (PR) funds to protect and/or enhance habitats for a wide variety of species, including listed and unlisted species. It is very likely that Section 6 and PR projects helped peregrines, but I cannot specifically identify either funding source as the source for peregrine recovery.
“It is very likely that Section 6 funds were used for projects that minimized or investigated peregrine disturbance, mortality, and contaminant monitoring because during the ‘70s and ‘80s, for many states, Section 6 funds were a major source, probably the most important source, of funding for work on listed species, including the peregrine.
“Reintroducing captive-reared peregrines was primarily an effort of the USFWS, some states, and private or private-public partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, and the Midwestern Peregrine Restoration Project. It is likely that some Section 6 funds were used for this, but it is also possible that some PR was used as well. It is likely that the majority of the funding came from the private partners and their memberships.”
So while Brian Millsap of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said “I don’t think this is one where the sportsmen can claim much credit, outside of the falconers who donated their birds to start up the captive propagation programs,” it does look like taxpayers should get a pat on the back. And I still contend we take every opportunity to shine the line on what sportsmen and women have contributed, when and where it’s appropriate.
On a completely different note, women can look forward to a new online resource from the National Wild Turkey Federation. In addition to a 16-page section devoted to women’s interests in each issue of the bi-monthly publication, “Turkey Country,” NWTF announced on its Web site they are in the early stages of ramping up their Women in the Outdoors Web site. NWTF invites you to provide your opinions of what you want from www.womenintheoutdoors.org.
Also announced at the site, more resources for event coordinators and outreach volunteers are on the way in 2010. Plus, soon NWTF will no longer require a membership as part of the registration fee for participants who are already NWTF/Women in the Outdoors members.
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