The Hunter’s Role in Habitat Preservation

In 1978, in the overpopulated state of Jalisco, Mexico, a unique species of corn was discovered to have the same number of chromosomes as our domestic variety. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that is a perennial plant; it does not wither and die with the coming of winter, but from year to year produces tiny ears of corn on stalks. When this species is crossbred with our larger hybrid species, corn on the cob can be harvested from plants tended much like blueberries and pineapples, which are grown without the increasing annual expense of spring planting.

This fabulous discovery was made in an area where the plant was assumed to be just another weed. In fact, this area of scrubland, host to dozens of bird species and several non-migratory mammals., was slated for clearing and development. Had that happened without a proper analysis of the area’s resources, all mankind would have lost infinitely more than could have been satisfied by building a few more housing units for Mexico’s ever-burgeoning human population.

The world is running out of petroleum, and the price per barrel keeps rising. This has set off a frantic search for natural and artificial substitutes. Several plants, among them the widespread euphorbia tree of equatorial latitudes, may provide some relief. An acre of euphorbia trees, under which other plants grow and wild game grazes, will yield ten to fifty barrels of oil per year at a cost may be economic or even profitable.

How is all this related to hunting? Simply and directly. Just as primitive peoples in South America had known about the curative powers of quinine long before they were discovered by civilized Europeans, equally primitive people of Africa and Australia taught modern scientist about oil in euphorbia, a characteristic which makes this tree superb for starting campfires but almost too rich and smoky for cooking.

These examples are further related to hunting because sportsmen were among the first to perceive that an arboretum doth not a forest make, and wild creatures in a zoo are no longer wild.

Since, in hunting, the act of killing is momentary compared with coming close to the animal in its own environment, the recreational hunter has always been concerned more with the perpetuation of species as a whole than with the artificial propagation of remnant individuals in zoos.

The hunter knows that habitat preservation is central, not just to the perpetuation of wildlife, but to the preservation of his own well-being.



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