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Beau Turner

Common Ground

I recently read an article in the Palm Beach Post entitled “Slaughter in the Swamp a Florida Heritage?” The article challenges the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) youth hunting programs. Read the article here.

I work closely with the FWC and feel it’s important to point out that the FWC’s youth programs include so much more than hunting. The primary goal of the FWC’s programs is to get kids outdoors. Hunting is one activity; other activities include fishing, shooting sports, hiking, kayaking, bird watching, rock climbing, surfing, archery, nature studies and more. These back-into-nature programs will help build the next generation of environmentalists.

In America today, parents have far fewer opportunities to get their kids interested and involved in their natural environment. The FWC’s programs provide that outlet. These programs keep young people from becoming “couch potatoes”; they keep kids off the street and away from trouble; they provide supervision for children in their natural world. All outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing, are good alternatives to video games that often introduce kids to violent imagery.  We as parents and global citizens have a responsibility to get our kids outside and active, and I am thankful we have organizations like the FWC to help us do that.

Hunting and fishing are strongly regulated to preserve the species that are taken, and are the most organic forms of food production.  Hunters and fishermen are leaders in protecting threatened and endangered species in hopes to restore them. Many are ardent conservationists and supply a significant amount of the donations that fund public lands. A great example is Teddy Roosevelt, an esteemed president and avid outdoorsman and hunter, who was also responsible for starting the National Park system.

A planned harvest does not threaten an alligator, or any other animal that is legally hunted. The real danger to alligators and to all species is the urban sprawl that encroaches upon their ecosystems. All of us, hunters, fishermen, birders, backpackers, animal rights groups and environmentalists are more similar than we think. We all want to breathe clean air, drink clean water and protect habitats rich in biodiversity.  Let’s use our resources to find common ground.

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