The National Rifle Association announced creation of the NRA Hunters Leadership Forum with some strong words in defense of hunters.
“American hunters are engaged in a culture war with violent animal rights extremists who use shame, ridicule and a mob mentality to seek our utter destruction.”
The specific purpose of the forum will be “to address the cultural, political, demographic, and technological challenges facing hunting in the 21st century.”
Hunters increasingly risk becoming an endangered species themselves, based on some recent surveys. America’s increasingly urban population, largely estranged from the outdoors, knows little of the country’s hunting heritage, and has no particular reason to be sympathetic to wildlife.
In California last year 283,539 hunting licenses were sold in a state with a population of 38.8 million. That’s only one hunter for every 136 residents. All those city people are proving fertile ground for the anti-hunting messages of animal rights activists and gun control groups.
According to the NRA, more than 20 million hunters regularly take to America’s fields, woods and wetlands, and play an essential role in proper conservation and wildlife management.
“But this legacy is continually attacked by anti-hunters who use mass media and social media as weapons in a culture war aimed at outlawing hunting.”
With comparatively few hunters in the overall population, the battle for public opinion takes on a sense of urgency when translated to politics. While firearms enthusiasts make take comfort in their 2nd amendment rights, there is no constitutional right to hunt. Hunting could be outlawed, and many forms of it have been. Arguments are increasing that hunting regulations are being influenced not by scientific and professional game management considerations, but by public perceptions of what is “cruel” or “unfair” to animals.
Pro-hunting organizations are recognizing this and stepping up efforts to counterbalance the barrage of anti-hunting rhetoric.
In July, the HLF launched a website – NRAHLF.org – and an HLF social media network “to tell the story of hunters, hunting, and wildlife conservation and to confront threats of hunting as they arise,” describing the effort to spread the word in order to preserve and grow hunting as a “Herculean effort.”
“It’s our sheer love of American freedom and the great outdoors that drives us to protect and celebrate our hunting heritage; expose the endless state, national and global threats to hunting; and tell the story of hunters, hunting and wildlife conservation – and where hunters’ dollars go.”
According to the NRA, the NRAHLF.org will publish stories on issues and threats to hunting whenever and wherever they arise.
(This article first appeared in LiveOutdoors.com on August 23, 2016)