Public Testimony given on 10/28/22 at the WDFW Commission Meeting:
Good morning, Commissioners, my name is Dan Wilson and I’m the co-chair of the Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. During the wildlife committee meeting on Oct 13, I was disappointed when a commissioner cast doubt on the idea that hunting plays a primary role in conservation and I feel the recurring obligation to clarify the interdependency of hunting and conservation before this body. Of course economic data is clear: department funding, direct donations, land transfers, habitat improvements, duck stamps and excise taxes are just a small sampling of the billions invested by outdoorsmen & women. But the impact of hunting isn’t limited to dollars and should be judged on the outcomes.
Following the decimation of urban-driven market hunting, it is recreational hunting, the individual passion for wildlife and ethical pursuit that has been a cornerstone of US wildlife recovery and sound management, and the numbers bear that out: look no further than the historic population data for elk, turkey, whitetail, pronghorn, black bears and Canada goose to see that hunters do not impede conservation- they cultivate it. Perhaps that’s why 75% of Washington residents approve of legal, regulated hunting in the most recent department public survey The cooperative partnership between hunters, anglers, trappers, and federal and state agencies has resulted in the most successful model of fish and wildlife management in the world, restoring populations from coast to coast. Those are the words of Governor Inslee by the way. That is the position of the highest elected official in this state, who appointed you all, and who has felt it necessary to issue multiple formal proclamations affirming hunting and angling contributions to conservation throughout his tenure. And so I think you can understand my confusion when members of this body seem unclear on the mutualism of hunting and conservation
Any consideration to demote or marginalize hunting’s role in the GMP is antithetical to scientific management. Invocation of the precautionary principle is equally as problematic. Attempts to upend the North American Model without a proven replacement model is reckless, irresponsible and dangerous. To quote President Theodore Roosevelt
“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination”
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the point made by Mr. Merrell who spoke early this morning. I’d like to extend my gratitude to all the community members who took time away from their liviehoods to speak today. Our voluntary time, treasure and talent is precious, that people choose to spend it here says volumes to their values.
Thank you for your time.