Letter: Reader questions outdoorsman columnist’s views on conservation

To the editor:

Brandon Butler, our weekly newspaper columnist and expert guide to all aspects of hunting and fishing, claims to be a conservationist.

What is conservation, exactly? It’s an ambiguous word that can be used by anyone at anytime for whatever purpose. For the sake of argument, I would assume he wants to protect the environment from the historical disasters of our past, many of which were caused by hunting and fishing, and many of which are continuing today.

So why is this guy from Missouri telling people from two states away to go and consume his state’s wildlife, or even worse, telling them to come here and take ours? Many of the places he writes about are crowded enough; do the woods and rivers need to be completely packed with hunters and fishermen before he is satisfied?

Does he have something to prove, such as the rhetoric that hunting is somehow beneficial to the wilderness, because in most circumstances, that is speculation at best. If a person is hungry enough to catch and eat a wild animal, then it must be done, but he is telling people to catch and release, and trophy hunt for fun. And when hunting season rolls around again, he will promote the exploitation of anything and everything that is not endangered.

Remember when Ginseng was popularized a while back by television programs, until it was almost completely used up? Too many people already take what they need and want from the woods. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t endorse hunting from helicopters like they do out west, or participate in fur trapping for the international export market. He has few boundaries, a limited sense of environmentalism, and no compunctions toward any activity set forth by the hunting industry.

Indiana has enough hunters, fishermen, loggers, trappers and other such people without enticing more to join them. Haven’t you people done enough already? It’s not everyday that I get to see a fox, turkey, quail, muskrat or much of anything else around here.

History has proven many times over what happens when everyone uses wildlife for sustenance or sport; it leads to extirpation and extinctions, and ultimately reintroductions and restorations. A vicious cycle of depletion and restocking is not the way to go.

We don’t need the advice of a professional hunter in Franklin or Greenfield, Indiana. We don’t need a travel writer making his living from our wild-born plants and animals. Why is he using Hancock and Johnson counties as a platform to launch his pro-hunting sentiments, anyway? Does he think the world belongs to him and his hunting buddies? Does he write these columns to pay for his gas and travel expenses, so he can play hunter instead of getting a job? Does he have any goals toward true conservation, or is hunting the best he can do?

Who told this guy that these activities are good for the environment anyway? If any publicity is good publicity for wilderness education, then I propose that an anti-hunting campaign would be in order. Instead of killing wildlife for pleasure and excitement, we should be advocating for hiking, canoeing, bird watching, zip lining and all the other forms of good outdoor recreation, and give something back after taking far too much for too long.

Bill Wrightsman