Just before the sun peeked over the horizon, a group of
ducks circled overhead. A few greeting calls and a feed chuckle kept them
interested for a pass. Then another. Then another.
Eight shots. Five ducks.
This stewardship of wildlife gets in the blood. It's
exhilarating, the food is good, and it helps manage wildlife — the whole
"dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air" thing
Yep. Management of natural resources through hunting and
fishing. The North American Model of Conservation, practiced in the United
States and Canada, emphasizes our role as stewards with regulations, seasons,
and creel and bag limits to allow reasonable harvest of animals, which helps
maintain healthy populations across species. Permit fees and excise taxes
generate hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation projects around the
nation, making hunters and fishermen the primary financiers of U.S.
This model of conservation is rooted in the "Seven
Sisters" of conservation:
- Individuals do not own the wildlife; rather, it is held in
the public trust. The people (in our case, the government of the people) manage
wildlife to benefit people, animals and plants.
- Sale of wildlife is controlled to mitigate using animals for
greed and profit.
- Regulations regarding seasons and limits are created and
enforced by the state and federal governments (the people).
- Opportunities for hunting, fishing and trapping are to be open
to all people, regardless of social standing or wealth.
- Harvesting of animals is to be for legitimate purpose,
including food, fur, protection of property, population control and
self-defense. Wanton killing is inappropriate.
- Wildlife is a global resource, so hunting and fishing is to
be managed across state and national boundaries. Again, the people — not
individuals or corporations — have dominion and responsibility.
- Wildlife management is to be highly influenced by scientific
knowledge and principles, not politics and personal preferences.
These principles are remarkably similar to Church teaching
on integrity of creation:
"God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom
He created in His own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and
clothing... It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die
needlessly." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2417-2418)
Sitting in a blind or tree stand, often quietly for hours
upon hours, gives ample time to prayerfully reflect on the stewardship of
wildlife. This conversation is critical, whether with hunting buddies or God
(the greatest hunting buddy ever). As caretakers of God's creation, it is our
responsibility to hunt and fish in ways that help God's creation flourish.
So go ahead and 'take 'em' — responsibly.