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By Wayne Bisbee Originally published by CNN on August 11, 2015 (CNN) The recent illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has understandably generated passionate and emotional responses from around the world. I agree with the common sentiment that the circumstances (if they are as reported) around Cecil’s death are abhorrent and those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I also think it’s unfortunate that legitimate hunters are given a public black eye by this case. Let’s face it, we all feel strongly about this issue, whether we’re animal activists, conservationists, or hunters. Many of us have the same basic goal: to ensure that endangered species are here for generations to come. That’s why I advocate conservation through commerce, which are controlled, legal, and sometimes high-dollar hunts whose proceeds benefit animal conservation. This is one of numerous legal, logical and effective tools to humanely manage resources, raise awareness of endangered animals, and help fund solutions. Yes, I am an avid hunter. I enjoy the thrill and challenge of stalking an animal and providing a more natural, healthier meat protein source to my family than what is available from the commercial food industry. Today, most hunters see the activity as sport. But hunting has been around as long as man and it’s not likely to go away any time soon. Billions of the world’s human population eat animal meat for protein, and this is not going to change. So the reality is that somewhere, somehow, millions of animals are killed every day to sustain human life. Does that mean I hate animals? Absolutely not. I love wildlife and I’m not alone among hunters. In a study published in the March 2015 issue of The Journal of Wildlife Management, researchers from Clemson University and Cornell University found that “wildlife recreationists -- both hunters and birdwatchers -- were 4 to 5 times more likely than non-recreationists to engage in conservation behaviors, which included a suite of activities such as donating to support local conservation efforts, enhancing wildlife habitat on public lands, advocating for wildlife recreation, and participating in local environmental groups.” Hunters are more likely than non-hunters to put our money and time where our mouths are. It makes sense when you think about it. Hunters have a vested interest in keeping exotic and endangered animals from going extinct. It’s about resource management All animals, from wolves to rhinos to humans, are hierarchical. In the animal kingdom there are alpha males who try to eliminate competition. An older member of a herd often isn’t ready to step aside just because he can no longer perform his reproductive duties. Older, post-breeding males are also very often BF&WCF in the 86 BISBEE’S CONSERVATION JOURNAL Q1/Q2 • 2016


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