I sat in on Aug. 13 Division of Parks & Wildlife Northeast Sportsmen’s Round Table, held at the Division Wildlife offices at 6060 Broadway. The Sportsmen’s Round Tables are designed to bring the hunting and fishing fraternity in to share information with state wildlife professionals. The State Wildlife areas open access for hunting and fishing; the Walk-In Areas in Eastern Colorado have expanded the access for upland bird hunting and the long standing state parks program is a very popular access program that thousands of families enjoy each year, and year-round.
The state has stepped up to provide public access to land and waters previously inaccessible and the parks and wildlife staff has established and encouraged timely and open communications between the state and the sportsmen. What have we done to foster and build on these state programs? Unfortunately maybe less than we should.
The Aug. 13 Sportsmen’s Round Table public meeting which had broad press coverage drew only 13 people from the public as compared to eight Parks and Wildlife staffers present.
Not all of the round table board members were present. There certainly was a woeful lack of fishermen, hunters, hikers, bird watches and others with an outdoors interest.
We are seeing a nationwide influence by those who oppose, and very successfully, the age-old role of hunting and fishing in wildlife management. A recent example occurred in Michigan where a national anti-hunting organization, well-funded, sent their people and bank roles into the state to circulate petitions and generate support for overturning a long standing dove hunting season. The sportsmen there laid back and wildlife support groups were less than serious and aggressive in countering the out of state national group of anti-hunting offensive.
The election resulted in a majority of the Michigan citizens voting to repeal the long standing dove hunting season. Considering Michigan is known as one of the nation’s predominate states with favorable habitat for wildlife and fish and a larger than average number of sportsmen, the election results were a surprise.
If you “google” the Internet you will find an alarming number of similar successes by the anti-hunting and anti-fishing organizations slowing limiting or literally eliminating hunting and fishing opportunities.
It is time sportsmen get involved, get informed and become activist for hunting and fishing. I wonder, isn’t it very possible that the estimated 5,000 plus people who attended the grand opening of Thornton’s Cabela’s store on Aug. 15 may want to be equally active and focused in supporting and protecting hunting and fishing in Colorado?
Outdoors writer Ron Hellbusch may be reached at Ron-Hellbusch@comcast.net