Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hunting as heritage

The vitality of hunting culture has occasionally been a topic on this blog in the past (see here, here and here), and it's on my mind again today because of this story by Erik Eckholm in the New York Times. Eckholm reports from Hamburg, Pennsylvania, population 4,114, and home to a Cabela's--an outdoor superstore. The story's headline, "Working to Keep a Heritage Relevant," suggests that hunting is part of our nation's heritage--and that it's struggling to survive. Eckholm reports that a 2006 survey found that 12.5 million Americans hunt, down from 17 million in 1975. He attributes this in part to our nation's increasing urbanization--and to teens turning to other activities. Here's an excerpt from the report:
The decline in hunters is a concern for state fish and game agencies, which are financed through licenses and excise taxes on sporting goods, as well as for pro-hunting conservation groups and advocates like the National Rifle Association.

“We’re concerned that in the future we aren’t going to have adequate dollars to manage our wildlife resources,” said John E. Frampton, director of South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources and president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “We also want to preserve an important part of our heritage.”

Mr. Frampton serves on a new federal advisory board intended “to help promote and preserve America’s hunting heritage for future generations,” in part by drawing in more youths and women.

Eckholm reports that four states--Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee--will vote this fall on proposals to amend their state constitutions to add a right to hunt and fish. The constitutions of ten states already include this right.

Kirk Johnson's related story, "For Many Youths, Hunting Loses the Battle for Attention," dateline Grand Junction, Colorado, is here. Malcolm Gay contributes this from the Apple Creek Conservation Area, Missouri, "Like Great-Great-Great-(Etc.)-Grandpa Did It." Lee's Summit, Missouri is the dateline for this final piece in the quartet of stories, this one by A.G. Sulzberger.

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