posted on March 06, 2014 21:53
Recently, conservation advocates gathered to strategize on how they could engage hunters in a broad coalition to protect North Dakota’s hunting heritage. The habitat which hunters rely on and conservationists are dedicated to protecting is under threat from the developments of energy production in the area - namely oil drilling.
Currently there are 10,000 oil drills in the state, and it is expected that this figure will quadruple over the next few years. This will lead to a reduction in the habitat that is available for pheasants and other game, which is already under huge strain from the loss of protected land to make way for crops.
According to studies the population of local game birds has already dropped 64% and it is likely to continue to do so unless action is taken.
The economic fallout of a reduced hunting community in the state of South Dakota, where similar problems are occurring, will also have a major affect on the local economy.
Currently the sport contributes $217 million to the local economy, but between 2012 and 2013 there was a drop of between 15 and 20% of the pheasant hunting related business. This is largely blamed on the reduction in bird numbers.
The latest programs that were formed to work on conservation measures in recent farm bill legislation have been cut because of pressures on government budgets – which leave the states of North and South Dakota having to find their own funding to sustain the habitat and the bird numbers.
Yet according to John Cooper, a fish and wildlife expert, North Dakota has done little to devise a plan to protect the natural assets that the state has.
In contrast, South Dakota has formed a working group which will report back, probably in the late summer or early fall.
Advocates of the protection of Pheasant habitat don’t suggest that the development in energy production should be stopped – it is a very important part of the North Dakota economy. However, hunters and conservationists need to band together to ensure the long term survival and protection of the habitat that they rely upon and love.
What are your views on the growing development of energy?
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