Stephanie Mallory is a mom, a hunter and Realtree’s PR Coordinator. She’s here to deliver an insider’s look at the outdoor business and give her opinion on all things outdoors—whether you asked for it or not.
Do You Know Your State's Endangered Species?
Monkeyface, Pimpleback, Pigtoe, Wartyback. Nope, these aren’t insults nor are they imaginary creatures in a Dr. Seuss book. Instead, they’re a sampling of endangered species listed for my home state of Alabama. A friend of mine recently brought to my attention a new interactive website from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which features maps and a variety of information on endangered species in every state. You can search by state or by species.
From perusing the sight, I learned that mussels and a variety of small fish dominate my state’s list of endangered species. Some I assume would say, “Who cares about a few mussels and fish?” Well, fish, as we know, are an essential food source for predators and birds of prey. Mussels are not only a food source for many aquatic animals, but they help clean and clarify the water making them extremely valuable to aquatic ecosystems.
Most hunters understand and value the essential role that each creature, from the tiniest microorganisms to the top predators, play in maintaining a healthy and balanced ecosystem. In fact, some of the most avid conservationists I know are also hunters.
For that reason, it angers me when non-hunters or anti-hunters assume we hunters are indifferent, or worse, antagonistic, when it comes to conservation. In fact, I had to work hard to keep my cool when an acquaintance suggested as much over dinner a while back.
I explained to her that hunters are the largest contributors to conservation thanks to the law known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, or the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. Passed in 1937 with strong hunter support, this law mandates that 11% of the purchase price of every new firearm, ammunition or piece of archery equipment goes to the federal government and then back to state natural resources agencies for wildlife conservation. Hunters provide almost $86 million a year for conservation through this excise tax—over $2 billion since 1937. In addition, every time we buy a hunting or trapping license or tag, the money is used by the natural resources agency to pay for wildlife management. In the U.S., hunters provide approximately $185 million per year through license fees. To top it off, many of us are members of one, if not more, of the many conservation organizations that are working to improve and sustain the quality of our natural resources.
So, pat yourself on the back for your contributions, but seek knowledge and stay actively involved in the conservation efforts in your state. It’s important to not only wisely manage the animals you hunt, but all creatures that are essential to a healthy ecosystem. As you know, if we lose even one of the most seemingly insignificant creatures, no doubt the effects will be felt all the way up the food chain, to the big-game animals you love to pursue.
So, check out your own state’s list of endangered species. See any on there that surprised you? Are you an active member of a conservation organization?