America's sport hunters and anglers have long been the foundation of the conservation movement in North America. Beginning with the elimination of commercial hunting at the turn of the 20th century and carrying through to the creation of the duck stamp, the Wildlife Restoration Act, and Ducks Unlimited in the 1930s, caring for and funding conservation has been embraced by those of us who love the resource and enjoy the pursuit of nature. But it wasn't always that way.
In the 1800s when "Go West, young man" and "Manifest Destiny" were the driving thoughts, sport hunters began to raise their voices to alarm the public about the slaughter of the bison, the unrestrained killing of big game, and the sale of America's wildlife to everyone from the restaurant owner to the women's hatmaker. Many held the belief that we could never run out of fish and wildlife. But sportsmen knew better. Led by one of America's true conservation icons, President Theodore Roosevelt, a group of sportsman-conservationists assembled to lay the foundation for what would become known as the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. The set of principles that form the model are known as the "Seven Sisters for Conservation" and are truly the envy of the world.
The Seven Sisters for Conservation are basic to our values in the United States and Canada, and are clearly part of our right to pursuit of happiness, but with the responsible tenets of respect for all creatures and the rights of other citizens. They are: Wildlife is held in public trust by the government for the people; Wildlife that belong to the people may not be commercially sold; The use of wildlife is governed by the rule of law; Hunting is an opportunity available to all citizens who comply with the law; Wildlife may not be killed for frivolous purposes and wanton waste is not acceptable; Many wildlife species are international species and will be jointly managed by the United States, Canada, and Mexico; and (very important to Ducks Unlimited and our partners) Management of wildlife will be done through the use and implementation of sound science.
These self-imposed rules of engagement ensure the ethical pursuit of the treasures we have been given as well as the user-pay model for funding conservation. That is still true today, as the vast majority of fish and wildlife management is paid for by hunters and anglers through license sales, stamps, taxes on equipment, and philanthropic donations to conservation entities like Ducks Unlimited. But we are not assured that this model will endure into the future. It is our responsibility to educate and recruit the next generation of hunter- and angler- conservationists to take our place. One of the most prominent ways we work together to accomplish this is through the NATIONAL HUNTING AND FISHING DAY celebrations!
National Hunting and Fishing Day was established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1972 that set aside the fourth Saturday in September each year as a day to celebrate this wonderful tradition. This year's honorary chair for National Hunting and Fishing Day is our good friend Richard Childress, founder and owner of Richard Childress Racing and a phenomenal friend of conservation. The formal celebration will take place at the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri, and will send the message to all sportsmen and women to TAKE SOMEONE HUNTING AND/OR FISHING! We all know that someone influenced us to get involved in this great sport, and it's our responsibility to recruit the next generation. Let's all do our part to carry on this family tradition!
Chief Executive Officer