Self-sustainability is a great goal to strive for, it truly is, but it is impossible to attain without practicing conservation. Conservation is a very complex science that involves years of study and a solid understanding of habitats, ecology, animals and environments, so with no schooling and very limited understanding, I will be writing an article about it.
Let us first talk turkey. Every April, people in New England begin gearing up for the spring turkey hunting season. I will be trying my hand at this this coming spring and I am very excited (just ask my roommates, I woke them up with a turkey call this morning)! While turkey hunting is gaining strength in the hunting community, in Connecticut, it almost was nonexistent. In the 70s or 80s, it was estimated that there were around eight wild turkeys left in the state; they had been hunted to near statewide extinction. Through one of the most drastic and effective conservation programs to date, between 1975 and 1992, 356 wild turkeys were released at 18 sites throughout the state. Strict regulations were put into place and the population was watched like a hawk (…get it). Because of this, Connecticut has been able to host a turkey hunting season successfully since 1981.
I am all for hunting and gathering, obviously, but it is so terribly important to give back as much, if not more, than you use. A portion of every single hunting license, fishing license, gun and ammunition sale, as well as fishing tackle sale, goes to a conservation fund that directly protects the resources that we so greatly enjoy. Beyond that, I would suggest that everyone join a conservation group. I am not talking a “save the whales” type earthy, crunchy group (more power to you if you’re into that…I like whales), but a group that deals directly in conserving our land and resources.
A few years ago I joined Ducks Unlimited, one of the actual greatest conservation groups in the world. Their reach spans three countries, they raise hundreds of millions of dollars in conservation funds every year, and they purchase and preserve millions upon millions of acres of land for duck hunters and nature lovers alive. Ducks Unlimited is directly responsible for the stable and growing duck population, all because three guys thought it would be great to be back to the days where flocks of ducks quite literally blocked out the sun. I, for one, love the idea and support it whole heartedly (and maybe I would miss fewer ducks!!).
I could go on and on about conservation efforts and their results from striped bass and flounder in the Long Island sound, to bears in the northeast, to salmon all over the country, but the stories are all the same. Someone finds something they love, an animal, some land, a plant, they work really hard to save it and even improve it, others rally behind them, and a conservation story is born. It isn’t just that animal or plant that is saved, though, as with Ducks Unlimited. Sure, there are half a million more ducks now, but there are also millions of acres of public land available now, thousands of hours of class taught every year, tens of thousands of volunteer hours donated, and even high school and college programs created, all from someone wanting to save a duck.
So what can you do? Get out there, folks. Buy fishing or hunting licenses (and take me tuna fishing). Join a conservation group. Google wood duck boxes and learn how to make them and where to put them. Look up something you like about nature and I guarantee there is an effort to protect it, and if there isn’t, let me know and we can start one. Above all, remember to have fun!