Hunters help pro­mote conservation in state

New ap­proaches aim to con­tinue in­ter­est in sport that aids ecosys­tem

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

For Mau­rice Craft, the steps are rote as he be­gins a hunt at the Patux­ent wildlife refuge out­side Lau­rel.

He sprays him­self with a mist de­signed to dis­guise his hu­man scent, shin­nies his way 20 feet up into a green metal tree stand, and read­ies his cross­bow. He rat­tles plas­tic deer antlers to at­tract the game, and waits.

It’s all new to Nasr Ma­jid, on the other hand, who only started hunt­ing this fall at Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge on the East­ern Shore. He’s one of a rel­a­tively few new hunters who con­ser­va­tion­ists hope will help re­verse a nearly four-decade de­cline na­tion­ally in what has be­come a hobby for fewer than 5 per­cent of Amer­i­cans.

Nat­u­ral re­sources and wildlife of­fi­cials in Mary­land are en­cour­ag­ing hunt­ing of deer, tur­keys and other game be­cause they say it’s good for the en­vi­ron­ment. Though hunt­ing may stir de­bates about firearms and an­i­mal cru­elty, these ad­vo­cates say it thins herds for the good of ecosys­tems and their hu­man neigh­bors. It also pro­motes ad­vo­cacy for land conservation.

Most im­por­tantly, they say, hunt­ing is a key source of rev­enue for pro­grams to pro­tect frag­ile lands and wildlife pop­u­la­tions. Fed­eral ex­cise tax rev­enue on equip­ment in­clud­ing firearms and fish­ing poles to­taled more than $1 bil­lion last year. See HUNTERS, page 20

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