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January 14, 2020

Meateater Podcast

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January 10, 2020

The North American Model, Explained

A Quick Primer on the Foundation of Our Hunting and Fishing Heritage

Hunters and anglers have long been the driving force behind wildlife conservation in America. In the second half of the 19th century, hunters began to organize and advocate for the creation of wildlife refuges, after witnessing the effects of market hunting and the wanton destruction of habitat. Some species, like the passenger pigeon, were taken to the point of no return; others such as bison, whitetail deer, and wild turkeys, were pushed to the edge of extinction.

President Theodore Roosevelt is generally remembered as the father of conservation in our country. He credited wild places and wildlife for his own personal development, and feared that the rugged individualism the wilderness taught him would be lost if he didn’t succeed in making conservation the nation’s highest priority. During his tenure as president, Roosevelt set aside more than 240 million acres as national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife refuges. He and his colleagues were instrumental in ending market hunting and ushering forward our nation’s conservation ethos.

Subsequent generations expanded Roosevelt’s legacy by creating funding mechanisms, primarily through excise taxes and license fees, to pay for the professional management and acquisition of millions of acres for the public to enjoy. During the early 1900s, important laws were passed, including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act of 1934, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act), and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950 (the Dingell-Johnson Act).

These statutes and the legal and funding framework that has since developed through these collective actions is now known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The term — coined and further expanded upon by luminaries such as Valerius Geist and Shane Mahoney, and championed by groups such as the Boone and Crockett Club and The Wildlife Society— outlines the principles that have underpinned successful wildlife conservation efforts in Canada and the United States.


USFWS Mountain Prairie
The Seven Pillars

As articulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, seven features make the North American model distinct:

1) Wildlife is a public resource and held in public trust. In the Unites States, wildlife is considered a public resource, independent of the land or water where wildlife may live. Government at various levels have a role in managing that resource on behalf of all citizens and to ensure the long-term sustainability of wildlife populations.

2) Markets for game have been eliminated. Government actions making it illegal to buy and sell meat and parts of game and non-game species have removed a huge threat to the survival of those species. A market in furbearers continues as a highly regulated activity.

3) Allocation of wildlife by law. Wildlife is a public resource managed by government. As a result, access to wildlife for hunting is through legal mechanisms such as set hunting seasons, bag limits, license requirements, etc.

4) Wildlife can only be killed for a legitimate purpose. Wildlife is a shared resource that must not be wasted. The law prohibits killing wildlife for frivolous reasons.

5) Wildlife species are considered an international resource. Some species, such as migratory birds, cross national boundaries. Treaties such as the Migratory Bird Treaty and CITES recognize a shared responsibility to manage these species across national boundaries.

6) Science is the proper tool for discharge of wildlife policy. In order to manage wildlife as a shared resource fairly, objectively, and knowledgeably, decisions must be based on sound science such as annual waterfowl population surveys and the work of professional wildlife biologists.

7) The democracy of hunting and fishing. In keeping with democratic principles, government allocates access to wildlife without regard for wealth, prestige, or land ownership.


Jeff Sullivan via Flickr
A Heritage Worth Fighting For

Today, we all have a duty to understand this uniquely American privilege and to preserve it for future generations.

Too often we take for granted what Roosevelt and generations of conservation-minded leaders have left us: a system of public lands that is unparalleled in all the world; the best-managed fish and wildlife populations of any nation; and the ability for all Americans to hunt and fish, regardless of class or economic status.


Top photo: Paul VanDerWerf via Flickr


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January 9, 2020

A Season of Firsts: Getting Started

An Aspiring Hunter Reflects on Potential Barriers to Recruiting New Sportsmen and Women

Whenever I tell people that I grew up in Montana, the first question I’m always asked is whether I hunt.

Up until this year, I’ve always sheepishly answered “no,” thinking that my reply in the negative would undermine my credibility as a Westerner.  

Growing up at the base of the Rocky Mountains, I was surrounded by big antlers on the wall, game meat on the table, and camo attire at weddings and funerals.  But I didn’t hunt.  

I was intimidated by the sport. I didn’t have anyone in my family who could teach me. I didn’t own a gun. I didn’t have any of the right gear. I didn’t know how to get a license or what I might need one for.  

But I knew I needed to learn when I began working at TRCP. If I wanted to talk the talk, I had to walk the walk. And with an office full of potential mentors, there was no excuse not to give it a shot.

Diving In

After asking a few of my co-workers how to get started, I discovered I could take a online hunter education course, which would then allow me to purchase a hunting license in any state. 

Given my current residence in Washington D.C., I signed up for the Maryland web course, which took about four hours to complete.  After passing the online portion, I had to spend an afternoon at a face-to-face class where an instructor would teach us how to handle a firearm, identify ethical shots, and navigate the complexities of landowner permission.   

It sounds relatively easy, but there were several barriers that needlessly frustrated the process.  And, because I know the statistics surrounding hunting’s declining rates of participation, they troubled me.  

For instance, because there were no opportunities to take the class near my apartment in the city, I had to rent a car and drive three hours to complete my certification. Meanwhile, the location of the course had been moved and I had no way of knowing until I showed up to the wrong building, just 10 minutes before the class was supposed to begin. The change in venue might not have been a big deal to someone familiar with the local community or who hadn’t needed to carefully plan their travel that day, but for me it presented another hurdle that could have been easily avoided.

When I arrived late, I was one of two female students in a class of 20 led by all male instructors.  One man, clearly amused by the D.C. license plate on my car, asked “Why would a city girl come all the way up here to learn how to hunt?” Another man quipped, “Don’t hold that gun like you’re scared of it.” While not intended to be mean-spirited, these words and others throughout the day clearly implied that I was out of place.

These challenges did not stop me from passing the course, but I can imagine for some they might. How would a prospective new hunter without easy access to transportation get there? Can we make it easier to reach new hunters where they might be found? How would someone with less self-confidence respond when they walk into that room or when they encounter skeptical gazes and teasing? Can we find ways to understand how underrepresented groups might feel as they learn about hunting?

We have to ask ourselves these questions as we watch the number of hunters decline year after year.


The Road Ahead

Thankfully, at the end of 2019 Congress took a major step forward in addressing some of these problems.  They passed the bipartisan Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act allowing excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to be used to improve the recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters.  

As this law gets implemented, states should take a hard look at the hurdles that people have to jump over and work to address them so more people feel comfortable learning about the sport and joining our community.  Reversing the trend of declining participation will require us to think seriously about what we can do better to make hunting more accessible to all, no matter where they live or what they look like.

This blog is part one is a series. Tune in next week to hear more about Marnee’s bird hunting adventure.  



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January 8, 2020

Podcast: Increasing Public Land Access in the West

Joel Webster, Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Western Lands joins Dave and Nephi on Your Mountain Podcast to talk about public land access. Specifically, they discuss TRCP’s work with OnX to identify and map the 6.35 million acres of public lands in the West that have no permanent, public access. Topics include: the history of TRCP; the importance of access to the future of hunting; corner crossing; successful existing access partnerships with landowners; ideas for increasing access; Joel’s mountain; and so much more. 



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January 3, 2020

12 Conservation Wins from 2019

As the New Year gets underway, here’s a look back at last year’s biggest moments for fish and wildlife

Last year sportsmen and women spoke out meaningfully on the issues that matter most, and thanks to your actions and the actions of our 60 partners we secured some key victories for conservation funding, fish and wildlife habitat, and sporting access.

We’ve been counting down 12 Days of Conservation Wins from 2019 on our social media accounts. In case you missed it, catch up below (and then follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).

  • With your support in 2019, the TRCP pushed Congress to pass bipartisan public lands legislation. This landmark accomplishment permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the nation’s most powerful tool for increasing access to public lands and conserving fish and wildlife habitat; reaffirmed that public lands are open for hunting and fishing unless specifically closed through a transparent public process; and preserved millions of acres of public lands and hundreds of miles of wild and scenic rivers.
  • After you spoke up for more public lands access, the TRCP released a second groundbreaking report in partnership with OnX Hunt, which revealed that 6.35 million state-owned public lands are entirely landlocked, limiting sportsmen’s access.
  • After 2,300+ of you signed action alerts calling for action on chronic wasting disease, the TRCP and our partners convinced House lawmakers to include $15 million in funding to address and research chronic wasting disease in their appropriations bills.
  • Migration crossings and habitat connectivity are vital for healthy game and fish populations. With your support, the TRCP and 44 partner organizations led an effort to secure $250 million annually for migration crossings and aquatic connectivity projects in the Senate 2020 Highway Bill.


Photo: Laura Mahoney/USFWS Pacific Southwest



Photo: USFWS Midwest



Top photo: USFWS Mountain Prairie



Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

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