A day dedicated to sportsmen, women

Despite changing demographics, Chenango County and the surrounding counties are still flush with hunting and fishing enthusiasts, for there are thousands of residents who enjoy these great outdoor activities. If you are one of the many who annually buys a hunting, fishing, trapping or combined license, feel pride in the fact that, without you, conservation would fall flat on its face, much to the probable surprise and concern of non-participants. And this Saturday, you are being lauded and recognized for your efforts, as the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day is observed.

National Hunting and Fishing Day – the 36th annual, Congress-appointed, president-proclaimed celebration of hunters, anglers and conservation – is set for September 22, 2007. Honorary chairman, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, is joined by a host of national sponsors and a growing list of public celebrations around the country – including a signature event at the official home of National Hunting and Fishing Day, the Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield, Mo., – are in place to help communicate the day's core message.

More than a century ago, hunters and anglers were among the first to realize that expanding civilization and unregulated market hunting were causing serious wildlife population declines, threatening the sustainability of many species. The efforts of hunters and anglers to change that situation helped pave the way for todayís systems of wildlife management, where regulated hunting, fishing and habitat management programs have restored and maintained sustainable wildlife populations for all people to enjoy.

Led by avid sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, these early conservationists called for the first laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife. They urged sustainable use and management of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for special taxes on sporting equipment they bought to provide funds for state conservation agencies. These actions were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic conservation successes of all time. However, in the 1950s as demographics made the swing from rural and farming to urban and suburban, people were growing up and living increasingly farther away from the natural environment and its intricate ecosystem. Less understanding and perhaps misplaced attitudes about the workings of nature and needs for conservation and sound management began to chip away at all that had been accomplished. It was also the beginning of animal rights groups that, sadly, knew next to nothing about wildlife, its needs, habitats, and necessary management. They mistakenly believed their philosophy of total preservation for everything in nature was more important than conservation.

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