I am interested in creating knowledge about wildlife. Hunting has changed my life and informed my perspective on conservation. To effectively conserve wildlife, we need multiple groups of people to engage in meaningful dialogue. My goal is to celebrate the complexities in hunting and conservation and explore their relationship. I want to understand how we can collaborate to create knowledge about wildlife and use that knowledge for conservation.
Hunting is wonderfully complex. It is a social activity that brings us together with friends and family. Hunting is also deeply embedded in conservation politics. Regulated hunting is an important tool of wildlife managers and hunting organizations play an important role in lobbying for conservation outcomes. Therefore, hunting is also a social-political act. When we hunt, we are an embodied expression of that social-political act. What political statements do we make through… Read More
This is not a repudiation of animal rights. The purpose of this discussion is not to diminish the history of the animal rights movement or demonize its proponents. We sometimes see the conservation movement as a linear thread through history on which we trace the growth of ideas and key figures in a neat and tidy narrative. In reality, the story of the conservation movement is as beautifully tangled and intricately complex… Read More
As conservationists, communication one of our most important tools. In many ways, the future health of wildlife depends on our ability to tell compelling stories from the heart that moves the public and politicians. As hunters, we sometimes allow ourselves to become baited into providing reactionary justifications for hunting and forget to focus on our personal motivations. Focusing on our motivations and speaking from the heart will create opportunities for genuine communication.
The environmental author Edward Abbey once said, “Hunting is one of the hardest things even to think about. Such a storm of conflicting emotions!” As we move our way through the hunting season, we will be acquiring new stories to tell about this year’s successes and adventures. We will take and post photos on social media as a way to tell those stories. Many of us will grapple with the images and… Read More
Conservation involves complicated layers that must be navigated. It involves a diverse set of voices, nuanced motivations, and vastly different ideas about the best types of programs and policies. Inevitably, there is a great deal of push and pull and disagreement about the right kinds of decision-making in conservation and what constitutes a morally right way to approach conservation. Bounties and killing contests occupy a contradictory space in the North American conservation… Read More
We often assume that if we convince people to care about wildlife they will support conservation. Of course, people are unlikely to support something they don’t feel personally attached to. Unfortunately, simply caring about wildlife does not always lead to positive conservation behaviour or support for policies. So the task is not only to make people care about wildlife but to do so in a way that will inspire them to take… Read More
We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. Globally, we are losing species to extinction at a minimum of 1,000 times the natural rate. Half of Canada’s wildlife species have declined since 1970. It is by now beyond debate that humans are impacting the world’s biodiversity, including wildlife at all levels, at a magnitude and rate that has never been seen before in the history of this planet. Academics and social… Read More
At one point in this continent’s history, we had no legal mechanisms for wildlife management and conservation. At one point, unregulated hunting and development had reduced this continent’s waterfowl populations to terrifyingly low numbers. We almost lost the wood duck, Canada geese were in danger, trumpeter swans had declined significantly, and habitat was being lost at dramatic rates. Then in 1916, North Americans made a statement about the present and future value… Read More
I began discussing the topic of trophy hunting in my last post, In Search of Trophies. The foundation of the post was that the social debates around trophy hunting are often structured around, and derailed by, two false distinctions. In the first post, I talked about a false distinction between two groups of hunters: trophy hunters and non-trophy hunters.
I don’t recall when I first heard someone use the term fair chase. I do recall becoming gradually aware of a set of thoughts, feelings, and ideals regarding different aspects of hunting that I would later come to identify as a developing understanding of what is collectively referred to as fair chase. Fair chase is a concept that is somewhat popularly understood as the moral foundation of our community; however, while many… Read More