Patting Your Back While Picking Your Pocket

By Bob Ferris
The recent article in Mother Jones about the oil industry and the NRA floods me with relief because it is a variation of what I have been saying for the last two years about some of what I have calledElk US FWS “wedge” hunting groups.  And that is:  Do not let inflammatory and seductive rhetoric mask an agenda that favors exploitive industries over the true habitat protection and conservation agendas of hunters and anglers.  
Hunters and anglers who are paying attention should be for enhanced habitat protections, more wilderness areas, cleaner water and additional roadless expanses.  If the group you support spends a lot of time riling you up about wolves, you might want to take a closer look at their total package because it might just hide some dark secrets.  They might just be patting you on the back so they can pick your pocket.
What should you look for?  The first and most obvious thing is coziness with oil, timber, mining and ranching interests.  Look at who is on their board and whether they argue for roads in the interest of access, timber harvests for habitat enhancement, and partnerships with ranchers to enhance hunting. Are they trying to convince you that energy development is compatible with wildlife?  Are they fighting hard to kill predators and not fighting hard enough to protect deer and elk from livestock-borne diseases or competition with cattle and sheep?
Look also to see if they have campaigns to protect wilderness, regulate public lands grazing and push restorative timber harvests rather than clearcuts.  And do they oppose herbicide use and dense replanting of forest lands?
Look also where the academics cluster—not the industry scientists from “think” tanks—but scientists who are legitimately working to figure out the mysteries of ecosystems not how many trees can be cut down, wells drilled or cattle grazed.  All these should be clues.
There are a lot of false flags out there and misinformation abounds when it comes to wildlife so take a moment to ask some of the above questions to see if you are working with a legitimate organization forwarding the cause of wildlife or one that gets you ramped up and angry while stealing your wildlife future when you are looking the other way.