Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in outdoor and travel markets. A former small-town newspaper editor and reporter, she constantly hunts for news headlines you need to read. Barbara also publishes Women’s Outdoor News online and pens columns for the National Wild Turkey Federation and Shooting Sports USA. Hailing from the Ozarks of Missouri, this avid hunter is now mentoring the second generation of hunters - her own little bevy of Realtree-wearing grandchildren.
Should Landowners Own Hunting Rights?
Landowners in Alaska may be allowed to manage game on their properties if the state legislature passes a bill that gives special rights to them to not only hunt big game out of season, but also, to sell hunting permits to whomever they want.
Currently a draft of this law is at committee level and the governor’s office has asked for a full legal review.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, proponents of this change think it would benefit big game, such as moose, because predators could be controlled and herds could be culled more frequently. Also, many supporters surmise that landowners will pay more attention to their wildlife and its needs when wildlife is considered as a financial asset.
In essence, the move would end “hunting socialism,” a term coined by the founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Don Peay. The article states, “It's time to revisit the widely accepted principle in the United States and Canada that game is a public resource. Peay described that egalitarian doctrine, found in Alaska's state constitution and laws throughout the West, as ‘socialism.’ It offers no economic incentive for landowners to kill predators, improve big game habitat and even provide food and water for target species.”
Peay and others who support the change, believe that the North American model – where the people own wildlife – has been responsible for reductions in game populations. Said Peay, “Population pressure, habitat loss from development and the rise of environmental organizations opposed to predator control have put pressure on game herds that weren't envisioned when the laws were written a century or more ago.”
Opponents believe the benefactors in Alaska will be mainly the large corporations that own the land, not ranchers.
Meanwhile, proponents point to states like Utah, where mule deer hunts have been auctioned to raise funding for the aforementioned Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and also, the Mule Deer Foundation.
The president of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Byron Bateman, stated that landowner permits in Utah have "increased the opportunity for the ordinary citizen to be able to hunt some of these private lands that they would not have been able to afford."
The question: Should landowners in this country be allowed to manage wildlife on their properties by selling private hunts?