Hunters help promote conservation in state
New approaches aim to continue interest in sport that aids ecosystem
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