Being an integral part of America's remarkable wildlife restoration success story is, at times, a thankless job, but having some animal "rights" fanatics petition the White House to label us as "domestic terrorists" for our efforts is something new altogether. These anti-hunting zealots state that NRA and other pro-hunting, pro-conservation organizations are a "menace in our midst" and "want our native predators like bears, wolves, wild cats, and the like decimated to the brink of extinction." It's likely the petitioners are the same peaceful folks who have recently issued death threats to wolf hunters.
Of course, at the most selfish level, hunters do not want any game species decimated because there wouldn't be any left to hunt. It seems pretty simple, but evidently not to all. At the more altruistic level, sportsmen are the heart and soul of America's wildly successful conservation efforts over the last century. We pay for these efforts through our excise taxes on equipment and purchase of hunting licenses, permits and stamps. Hunting is the most effective means to ensure that certain species don't damage the environment by exceeding the carrying capacity of the land, or pose a threat to public safety.
Because of the efforts of hunters, all of the species cited in the petition as being "decimated" are doing better than they have in many decades. Wolves have been delisted in the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes regions. In the former, populations continue to increase with regulated hunting and the same will be true in the latter region after this year's hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Bears are wreaking havoc in urban neighborhoods throughout America and new seasons are being established in states like Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Nevada. Cougars are expanding their range faster than scientists can intellectually accept. They regularly dismiss sightings in certain regions of the country, only to have them confirmed when vehicles kill the toothy felines or trail cameras take pictures of them.
The NRA has always actively supported science-based wildlife management using regulated hunting. Loony threats from radical anti-hunting organizations will not change this. The fact of the matter is that America's sportsmen are most responsible for the restoration of countless species, including predators. For this, they should be celebrated, not villainized. It will be interesting to see if the petition is amended to include every state and federal wildlife agency in the country since they, like NRA, promote the management of predator populations through regulated hunting and trapping.