When politics trumps biology, outdoorsmen lose
One of the things that fascinates me the most about the field and forest, stream and lake, and the game we pursue in those wild places is the intricacy of it all. How complex each part is and how they eventually seem intertwined with one another.
I’m not a professional by any means, just a highly interested hobbyist. I think that’s why I don’t burn out on this; I don’t have a year to go until I complete a degree and half a semester in a class on the Krebs cycle.
It starts out so simple and easy to understand, and then a lecture later, your brain aches trying to categorize all the additional information. But every living creature has a Krebs cycle in every cell in its being. Google it, you’ll find a fairly benign second lecture diagram and you’ll be saying to yourself “How do you pronounce dehydrogenase?” And that’s a simple one.
Intake and output – everything in-between — and habitat, it all interrelates. You’ll find the Krebs cycle between intake and output, but I’ve been told by non-medical friends they don’t need to hear the gritty details.
The last couple of topics we have been talking about were grouse and deer, and the reason for the lackluster seasons statewide, given the numbers bagged. It doesn’t matter how you slice it — disease, season structure, predators, weather, hunting pressure, lack of registration stations, or forestry management — it comes back to the habitat. I’ve cited a lot of statistics in the last several months about habitat. I don’t want to get bogged down in statistics today. Let’s stick with the very interesting, easy-to-grip, almost fun stuff.
I listened to an individual in the hunting industry being interviewed on a podcast talking about his and father’s experiences in the state he grew up in. This guy lives, works, and grew up in New Jersey. He stated that people figure New Jersey is comprised of a turnpike, the shore, and a few dirty cities. He explained how the rest of the state is, or was, largely agricultural and how that created a hunting boon in New Jersey that has ended as the land and forest upon it has aged out of young successional forest. He explained that had a lot to do with politics. And a lot of what is going on now in New Jersey stems from politics. In his and especially his father’s lifetime, New Jersey provided high quality hunting for bobwhite quail, pheasant, ruffed grouse, and woodcock in the uplands. For large game, they have whitetail deer, black bear, and turkey.
From the habitat perspective, his father has seen the quail disappear, then the pheasant, and he has seen what he feels was the last grouse hunting in New Jersey. That’s right. By emergency order, the state game department closed the ruffed grouse season last year. They are not expected to ever reopen it. Could you imagine experiencing that? A change by politicians a number of years ago took doves and black bear off the game species classification and re-classifi ed them as nuisance species. This means their current anti-hunting governor was able to ban hunting for black bear on state owned land, but there are still federally owned lands and private land where black bear can be hunted. This had nothing to do with population. For many years now, New Jersey has not harvested enough bears and the state would extend the season for hunting every year, trying to hit the quota they wanted. It’s political.
Just like the lack of habitat management in New Jersey which has led to the loss of quail, pheasant, and now ruffed grouse hunting. This individual recalled the trips when his dad pulled him out of school for a week each fall to hunt grouse and woodcock in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Vermont and other states. He travels professionally now and hunts in all these states and more, visiting a couple each year.
He stated that as a young hunter he never foresaw the changes that have occurred in New Jersey, but as a hunter in his late 30s, he has seen the changes from his teen years to adult years in many states, including Wisconsin. His fear is the same thing can happen in any state. Biologists tell him that they could manage the habitat to bring back the glory days, but the will of the public and politicians isn’t there. It’s all interrelated.
CHUCK K OLAR LOCAL OUTDOORSMAN