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There’s a lot of discussion about cultural diversity these days. But I’d like to talk about a different type of diversity, wildlife habitat. The existence of wildlife, whether it is hunted or not, is made possible by having a diversity of habitats for various species with differing needs.

For a number of reasons, wildlife habitat diversity—especially that of Indiana grasslands and prairie—has dwindled in the past few decades.

Hunters know that a dearth of grasslands and prairie means a decline in gamebirds like bobwhite quail. But it also results in a decline in songbirds and pollinators, a fact worth sharing with conservation-minded people who don’t hunt.

The DNR preserves and restores various habitats on public land, but 96 percent of Indiana land is privately owned. To make a true difference, private land needs to be involved. That’s the goal of two DNR private-land conservation initiatives that also address land access for hunters. Both are described in detail in this guide.

New this year, the Grasslands for Gamebirds & Songbirds Initiative (GGS) provides financial and technical assistance to private landowners to develop grassland habitat. APPLE (Access Program Providing Land Enhancements), which is in its second year, provides for some habitat development, but focuses on providing incentives to willing participants to allow limited public hunting opportunities on their land.

If you have had to travel out of state to hunt gamebirds in prior years, this news may rival the sweet sound of any songbird you’ll hear in such grasslands.

Cameron F. Clark

Director, Department of Natural Resources

 

The DNR and the public share the responsibility of managing the Hoosier state’s fish and wildlife resources.

As hunters and trappers, you probably know that a large part of what we do at the Division of Fish & Wildlife involves promoting and enhancing specific habitats and the species that thrive in them.

We need your help to fulfill that stewardship mission. It takes partnerships to create, promote and enhance habitat.

If you already play a part, thank you. If you are not involved yet, consider this an invitation to help improve and protect the resources you enjoy that are becoming far too scarce.

DNR is charged with being the professional stewards of wildlife resources, but we can’t do it alone. If you are genuinely interested in wildlife resources, being a steward is your responsibility, too.

The first way to get involved is individually. When meetings related to habitat issues are held in your area, attend and make sure a hunter or trapper’s voice is heard. Keep tabs on such meetings by subscribing to Wild Bulletin at wildlife.IN.gov/5704.htm.

Second, there are tons of conservation groups out there. Those and other groups are powerful voices for habitat stewardship. Consider joining one or another one.

Become part of this movement today. Help us create and maintain wildlife habitat. If you’re already playing a part, consider recruiting people to help us grow our population of habitat-minded people.

You owe it yourself and future generations who will benefit greatly from the resources you helped preserve.

Mark Reiter

Director, DNR Fish & Wildlife