[CT Birds] Birders have not failed

charles barnard jr chbarnjr at gmail.com
Sun Mar 10 17:34:45 EDT 2013

I respectfully disagree with Chris' viewpoint that birders have not been
willing to share the financial burden of wildlife conservation to the same
degree that hunters have.  Chris is not alone in feeling the way he does on
that issue, as witness earlier posts to this list from at least one other
wildlife professional.

Birders, as a group, did not resist past efforts to put a tax on birding
equipment, bird seed, etc..  The major source of resistance to such a tax
came from manufacturers and retailers, both of whom were concerned that the
tax would hurt their sales. They strongly opposed any such tax.

Many birders do belong to any of a host of organizations whose purpose is
to conserve wildlife and birders often make substantial financial
contributions to those organizations which go far beyond membership dues.
Neither the state nor federal governments get that money, but it is money
which is well spent. Think of all the acres that local land trusts and The
Nature Conservancy have purchased and protected with donations from people
who call themselves "birders." Think also of all the high priority forests,
grasslands, wetlands etc which various conservation organizations have
saved from clear-cutting, oil and mining development, draining and filling
etc.. The effort to accomplish those things couldn't have been made without
membership dollar support- and many of those members are birders.

As an example: Back in the day before the Stratford portion of the McKinney
NWR became a reality, the membership of the Saugatuck Valley Audubon
Society came through in a big way in order to get Congress to approve the
funding. SVAS had about 850 members in those days and they deluged our
congressmen and senators with letters seeking help in getting the funding.
Certainly there were other groups and even "ordinary citizens" who also
pitched in to a large or even larger degree, but getting swamped with mail
from hundreds of chapter members had to have made a big impression on those
congressmen and senators who represented us. The Stratford portion of
McKinney could today consist of more warehouses and docks without that
effort. Both the National and state Audubon societies have done fine work
in the conservation field for over a century in some cases

 I have a very generous cousin who donated about 40 acres of land to a land
trust (not in Connecticut) because it was considered ecologically very
important from a number of viewpoints. Incidentally, she made sure that
hunting on her land would be permitted on an individual request basis
before donating her land. She wanted local deer hunters whom she knew to
still be able to hunt her property, as long as they asked for written
permission each year. Neither my cousin nor her husband hunt themselves.

Finally, how much time and effort do birders give to putting in time as
volunteers for both state and federal wildlife agencies? I would say that
birders are very generous with their time and physical effort, as well as
financial effort and in making their voices heard on issues.

I don't think that the portrayal of birders as cheapskates when compared to
hunters when it comes to conservation issues is either fair or accurate.

Charlie Barnard Jr

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