I read Michael Burrows’ March 30 letter with dismay (“Letter to the editor: Hunting and trapping college course is a Trojan horse”). I was unaware of this proposed legislation (L.D. 271) and glad that his letter alerted me to it.

As an academic who has written about and taught both undergraduate and graduate-level courses addressing conservation, I can say there is an unambiguous connection between hunting (and fishing) and conservation. There exists a substantial body of literature about this, and I would encourage Burrows to start with Philip Dray’s “The Fair Chase.”

But even if one did not know the long tradition of how hunters in North America have been advocates for land conservation, the connection is rather obvious: Hunters, fishers and trappers want to kill and/or catch wild animals. Those wild animals need habitat to live and reproduce. Habitat requires land conservation, especially in the face of increasing development pressures. And hunting-fishing-trapping license fees, as well as the Pittman-Robertson Act’s tax on firearms sales, directly fund conservation efforts.

Perhaps Mr. Burrows is confusing the concept of preservation (think national parks) with conservation (think national forests, which allow for hunting and timber harvesting). Even if modern hunters are unaware of this ethic, wouldn’t a course mandating conservation education be just the thing to enhance hunters’ appreciation?

It is entirely fair for Mr. Burrows to oppose hunting based on its inherent taking of animal life. But to oppose this bill, based on the premise that there is no connection between hunting and conservation is simply, factually wrong.

C. Ian Stevenson, Ph.D.
Peaks Island

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