The cycle repeats itself each year.
As outdoor enthusiasts, our excitement begins in early spring with the release of the application hunt book and the tag application process. Shortly thereafter, although it can feel like an eternity, tag draw results are released. Successful tag applicants begin to plan their hunts with friends and family, excitedly scouting locations for their anticipated adventures. Unsuccessful applicants find solace through invitations from luckier friends and family. It is within these August through December hunt seasons when lifelong memories are made. Following their hunt, successful hunters seek creative recipes, trade meat processing secrets, and share their bounty with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Some, keep and tan hides or preserve horns and antlers as precious mementos from times shared with cherished people. The cycle continues throughout the holiday season when hunters relive the past season’s adventures. They share wild harvested foods and the tales of their origin, perhaps stretching the truth at times. Some are lucky enough to extend their outdoor adventures into January and February chasing the “devil bird’ , otherwise known as chukar, sitting in the marsh for a chance to get a duck or goose, or standing on frozen water in pursuit of a meal or two of fish. When it all winds down and fresh new green growth emerges from a long winter nap, the cycle begins again, with new hopes and new opportunities.
Despite the predictability of this annual cycle, it is critical to take inventory on the bigger picture of conservation. What are we as sportsmen and women doing in the conservation arena? What does our future look like? What are the challenges and where are the opportunities? There are numerous significant and exciting events and activities occurring around the conservation community right now. Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is gaining significant support in the House of Representatives with the hope of companion legislation being introduced in the Senate shortly. Passage of this landmark legislation could bring significant resources to the state of Nevada and help to more effectively and adequately address the conservation needs of our many species. The Relevancy Roadmap is a newly released document designed to address the growing challenges around the relevancy of who we are and what we do as conservationists, sportsmen and women, and state wildlife agencies. Gaining and keeping broad support for conservation is paramount to delivering effective conservation and meeting the public’s expectations.
Certainly, there are challenges we face as well. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) released a report which showed a 2.9 billion bird loss in North America of the past 50 years. The report stated that nearly 30% of all North American birds have disappeared in the last 50 years. However, recovery is not only possible when we invest in conservation activities but evident through the direct support by hunters and anglers. Of 10 different biomes analyzed, only one showed any increases in bird abundance; that was the wetland biome. Contrary to the findings in all other biomes, the wetland biome showed a gain of 20 million birds. Ducks, geese, turkeys, and grouse, the hunted species, were some of the only species in all North America to show increases over the past 50 years. The contributions of hunters and anglers to protect, restore, and enhance populations and habitat are undeniable. Thank you!
Although our ride on the annual cycle of emotions around the big game tag draw of excitement, anticipation, planning, enjoying, sharing, and reliving is habitual and predictable, it is our contributions to conservation that truly define us. Conservation of species and habitats is the primary benefit of your participation and it is important we recognize and appreciate that. As we go around and around on our annual cycle, much like riding on a Ferris wheel, although our seat stays the same the view is always changing. It is imperative we take time to reflect on the big picture as our views change.
I wish each one of you luck in this year’s big game tag draw and want to thank each of you for your contributions to the conservation of Nevada’s wildlife and its habitat.
Tony Wasley – Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife