“Hunter-Conservationists:” the Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century

The award for Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century goes collectively to Kit Fischer, sportsmen’s outreach coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation (what the hell kind of environmental/wildlife advocacy group hires an outreach coordinator to attract sport hunters?); Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation; Jim Posewitz, board member of Helena Hunters and Anglers; Casey Hackathorn, president of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers; Chris Marchion, board member of Anaconda Sportsmen and Glenn Hockett, president of Gallatin Wildlife Association. These revisionists recently had the insolent audacity to try to boast that “hunter-conservationists saved bison from extinction a century ago” in their article, Enlist Montana Hunters to Manage Bison Numbers.

Let’s not forget that the vast herds that once blackened the plains for hundreds of miles on end were almost completely killed off by hide-hunters, market meat-hunters or by sport-hunters shooting from trains just for a bit of fun.

The only reason hunters stopped the insanity was that the bison were all but completely wiped out. By the time they ended their killing spree, only 18 wild bison remained, holed up like wrongfully-accused outlaws in the upper reaches of the Yellowstone caldera.

Although Yellowstone National Park is now synonymous with the shaggy bovines, bison would prefer to spend their winters much further downriver, on lands now usurped and fenced-in by cowboys to fatten-up their cattle before shipping them off to slaughter.

If today’s ranchers and hunters had their way, bison, along with wolves and grizzly bears, would be forever restricted to the confines of the park. Rancher-hunters already have such a death-grip on Montana’s wildlife that bison are essentially marooned and forced to stay within park borders, battling snow drifts no matter how harsh the winter, despite an instinctual urge to migrate out of the high country during heavy snow winters.

Instead of making amends for the historic mistreatment of these sociable, benevolent souls, twenty-first-century sport hunters want their chance to lay waste to them again–this time in the name of “tradition.”


Parts of this post were excerpted from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Text and Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

9 thoughts on ““Hunter-Conservationists:” the Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century

  1. Hunters and ranchers have been displacing wildlife and wilderness for thousands of years, since the dawn and march of civilization. They do not see themselves as such, but ranchers, farmers, hunters have led a war on wildlife. They see themselves as stewards of the land and conservationists because they allow some animals on the land, even if the the land is public leased land. But they are not tolerant of predators. wild horses, bison. Hunters often see themselves as conservationists because they work to expand and protect the game species for their blood sport traditions, but they create a huge distortion in wilderness ecology by marginalizing predators and farming ungulates and game birds. These groups are hugely into entitlement thinking. Ranchers, particularly in the West, see all public land as “their land” and they are against wild horses, bison, predators. Hunters and fishermen see their sports targets as theirs and resent sharing with raptors, storks, apex predators. They are wrong about it all, not seeing the benefits of balanced ecology and the healthy roles of predators. But their thinking errors get in the way of any change: Entitlement, power and control, victim stance, use of delusional righteous anger to control others, dehumanization of opponents to their views, self centered thinking. Major obstacles to change are society’s own ignorance and indifference to the unsustainable animal farming and game farming effects, most oblivious to inevitable extinction of land and sea wildlife and maybe our own existence (too abstract a concept for most).






  2. “Hunters Led War on Wildlife”: And I would add ranchers and wildlife agencies: Hunters and trappers have been calling themselves conservationists lately a lot it seems. They cite early conservationists and early efforts to save game species (birds and ungulate herds) and fishes and on-going efforts to save game animals (killing targets for sportsmen). Some early “hunter-trapper conservationists” of considerable note were early pioneers in conservation: Teddy Roosevelt was one but he also founded numerous national parks and wildlife refuges to protect wildlife from hunter-trapper sportsmen. Aldo Leopold was one, hunter and naturalist, who became more enlightened about protecting the wolf and other predators and their place in the ecology. George Grinnell was one and also founded national parks including Glacier. I have met and know some hunters that like a balanced ecology of predators and prey, a true wilderness in which to hunt, and who disagree with trophy hunting and are even disgusted by it– and one who compares killing wolves to shooting his neighbor’s German Shepherd. But such hunter-sportsmen are far from often on the landscape; most have a very irrational, uniformed, visceral hate of wolves in particular and predators in general and want to minimize, marginalize, or exterminate them and essentially farm ungulates and game birds. Some even hate raptors who take “their” birds and their fish, as they view ungulates as “their” elk or deer. Most sportsmen and state wildlife agencies, it seems, want to marginalize the main predators (wolf, lion, grizzly). Nebraska only has about 70 cougars yet is embarking on a vigorous “management” campaign, as is SD with only 170 cougars. Alaska is killing wolves just outside national parks; Denali National Park has loss 2/3 of it’s’ wolves negatively affecting wolf watching opportunities. Since wolves have been turned over to state “management” 2700 wolves have been killed plus another 3435 by the rogue USDA Wildlife Services which kills a million animals a year in the name of control. Organizations of sportsmen such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has money, recently $25,000 to MT FWP for wolf “management”, has offered bounties and cooperative agreements with agencies for wolf killing and the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife recently donated $15,000 to Wildlife Services USDA, a renegade killing wildlife agency that kills (shoots, traps, poisons) over a million animals annually. Sportsmen organizations are silent on predators if not unashamedly hostile but loud on protecting and farming game species. There are wildlife killing contests going on all over the USA and in some places, like TX, weekly. Hunters even call these killing contests conservation, killing coyotes for instance to save deer. States like ID-MT-WY-WI-MI have vigorous unscientific, political drive-down-the-wolf-population policies, trapping, extended seasons, and liberal kill policies year around. Much of this wildlife killing is done by trapping, a barbaric, horrendous way to kill and mostly unjustified. Trapping on public land is mostly done for “recreational” sports killing, the fur trade, trophies, with little regard for ecology and the interests of the general public, wildlife viewing, safety of the general public, and it takes a large toll in collateral damage to non-targeted animals, and is overly touted as need to control. There is some need for handling “nuisance animals” but the notion is abused by too little hesitation to evaluate the need, too little scientific management, too little nonlethal means used; basically trapping is a quick draw response and such a barbaric, inherently cruel means of “management” it should be under tight scrutiny with a public panel oversight and used only by wildlife agencies sparingly. There are around 7000 trappers in Montana alone doing it mostly for the fur trade and recreationally.

    Roger Hewitt
    Great Falls MT
    March 6, 2014











    “To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul.” Aldo Leopold

    “Whenever and wherever men have engaged in the mindless slaughter of animals (including other men), they have often attempted to justify their acts by attributing the most vicious or revolting qualities to those they would destroy; and the less reason there is for the slaughter, the greater the campaign for vilification.”

    ― Farley Mowat, naturalist, conservationist and author of Never Cry Wolf

  3. Pingback: “Hunter-Conservationists:” the Most Ridiculous Spin of the Century | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

  4. I reblogged your article and distributed it across my social-media sites. It seems at times that our conservation organizations have confused nature with ngo. They begin placing the needs of their non-governmental organization ahead of those of wildlife.

    • We are having the same issue here in the Tucson Arizona area. Several environmental groups are on the game and fish advisory board regarding the capturing, radio-collaring and relocating of bighorn sheep ; under the greenwash of conservation. Several mountain lions have had to be killed, of course, because the new sheep are a welcome dinner for them. Its pure anthropocentrism and the end goal is of course more”trophies” for the people who like to kill animals for “sport”.

  5. LOL!!! Seriously I ask you wtf is wrong with people’s mentality these days?!?!! They should be so ashamed of themselves! How do they sleep!?! Such a precious pic!! Bless the animals ❤

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