October 4, 2016 --
Hunters actively participate in conservationism aboard Quantico
Among non-hunters, there is sometimes the misconception that hunters don’t care about wildlife and the conservation of ecosystems.
But it turns out that hunters are some of the best and most dedicated conservationists.
“People might think hunters just want to bag game,” Tim Stamps, head of the Marine Corps Base Quantico Natural Resources Branch, said. “But the bottom line is, hunters understand that wildlife populations need land in order to survive.”
“Overall, hunters are really good conservationists,” agreed John Rohm, head of the Fish, Wildlife and Agronomy program aboard MCBQ. “They’re interested in wildlife in general and they understand that what you do for one species helps many species. They want good, healthy habitats.”
A hunter’s support of land and wildlife conservation aboard Quantico and nationwide actually begins without much effort on his or her part, Rohm and Stamps explained. That’s because of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937—also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act—which created an excise tax on the sale of hunting licenses and supplies. Funds from the excise tax are given to the states for the management of wildlife habitats. (A similar piece of legislation, the Dingell-Johnson Act, places a tax on boats and fishing equipment that can only be used for the management of fish populations.)
A May 2013 Field and Stream article estimated that the Pittman-Robertson Act would generate $800 million in funds for state wildlife and fishery departments. Natural areas protected by money from these departments are enjoyed not just by hunters, but by hikers, bikers, bird-watchers and more.
“So funding-wise, hunters are critical,” Rohm said. “State agencies would be crippled without them.”
The Pittman-Robertson Act was introduced to rescue wildlife species that had been hunted to the brink of extinction, such as the white-tailed deer and the wild turkey. Stamps said there were no white-tailed deer in Stafford, Prince William and Fauquier counties in the early part of the twentieth-century.
“They were reintroduced here in the 1950s and their restoration was largely funded by hunting license fees,” Stamps said. “They’re one of the great conservation success stories.”
Bighorn sheep, elk, antelope, wood duck, and bison are some of the other animal species that have been restored by funds from the Pittman-Robertson Act.
Today, both wild turkey and white-tailed deer have healthy population numbers and are the targets of popular hunting seasons aboard Quantico. Some might say the deer population is too healthy—Stamps said there have been complaints from the Quantico National Cemetery of deer eating flowers off the graves—but hunting helps to keep the population in check. Predators like bears, coyotes, and bobcats are also making reappearances in Virginia, which will help to keep deer populations balanced.
Once a hunter has become immersed in the sport, the importance of wildlife and ecosystem conservation usually becomes clear to him or her.
“Hunters spend a lot of time in the woods,” Rohm said. “So it’s not hard to make that leap if you’re already enjoying time outdoors.”
A number of conservation groups have been founded by hunters, Stamps said, such as Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited and Whitetails Unlimited.
“Hunters have a great interest in those species because of their recreational enjoyment of hunting them,” Stamps said.
Rohm said that most of the volunteers who donate their time to the MCBQ Conservation Volunteer Program (CVP) are hunters.
“Volunteering for the CVP is the primary contribution the base community can make towards conservationism,” Stamps said.
The CVP is managed by the National Resources and Environmental Affairs Branch. Volunteers are assigned projects to maintain the recreational infrastructure that allows people to get out and hunt or enjoy nature aboard base. CVP volunteers have constructed equipment storage sheds, wildlife viewing platforms, fishing access areas, boat docks, and bridges; provided hunter education courses; guided hunting trips for the Quantico Injured Military Sportsmens Association; collected litter and trash from roadsides, training areas, and cemeteries; conducted wildlife and water quality surveys; and planted for wildlife food and soil erosion control in training areas.
Volunteer for CVP by contacting Stamps at Robert.email@example.com or calling 703-432-6774.