“This initiative is intimately connected to food security, wildlife management, cultural traditions, human health, agriculture, and land use policy.” Dr. Shane Mahoney, President and CEO of Conservation Visions, Inc. Photo courtesy of: ConservationVisions.com
We’re part of the problem and we are also part of the solution, because what we don’t know about wild protein hurts us all. It’s important to understand how much of North America relies on wild protein as a primary source of food. Often, the most remote communities of the United States and Canada have very little access to affordable, if any, store-bought sources of fresh meat. Conservation Visions’ The Wild Harvest Initiative (WHI) is the first effort to measure just how much wild protein is harvested and consumed in North America and document its true value. To date, the ecological and economic significance of harvest from the 40 million U.S. and Canadian hunters and anglers has not been quantified. As Dr. Shane Mahoney, founder of Conservation Visions has stated, “It’s time we did know.”
“In this world today, the access to reliable sources of food that can be sustainably harvested is the dream of every single government.” Dr. Shane Mahoney, President and CEO of Conservation Visions, Inc.
In the 21st century, the public is very aware that the cost of healthy food is increasing. Unfortunately, lower quality food has become the norm while low-impact, high quality sources of protein make up less of the average American and Canadian diet. Movies such as “Super-Size Me” highlight the absence of inexpensive, nutritious, and delicious food in even first-world nations. The answer to the perceived void of quality sustenance lies right under our nose, or more accurately, in our back yards where wild protein is harvested. Arby’s limited release of the venison sandwich on October 21st, 2017 across the country is an excellent example of just how popular wild protein is becoming. Venison was first sold in a handful of states in 2016 and sold out in minutes because of the demand for lean healthy, sustainably harvested meat.
In urban areas of North America, “locavores” have begun to change how average Americans and Canadians eat and shop for food. Locavores generally consume food that is only grown within a 100-mile radius of where they live. As an alternative to the global food model, locavores are by definition, eating food and protein supplied only by a local network of distributors, retailers, butchers, and farmers. With that in mind, hunters and locavores have much more in common than they think regarding protein. Food quality and security matter to us all.
Support for the Wild Harvest Initiative is growing rapidly, primarily among hunting groups. The goal is to better understand the economic impact of and develop best practices for public access to wild protein sources. Measuring protein harvest is just the beginning. Data will empower wildlife managers and local communities, by providing the most accurate information available on the value of their wildlife, to advance conservation into the 21st century. SCI Foundation is a partner in this initiative to reframe the relevancy of hunting in the modern world.
“We must recognize that a new society needs new narratives.” Dr. Shane Mahoney, President and CEO of Conservation Visions, Inc.
Hunters and fishermen are proud of our traditions. That pride is expressed in our willingness to teach and partner with others that wish to learn. Hunting and fishing is much more than a hobby, it’s a way of life. The skills required for hunting and angling are as old as mankind, and have been passed down from generation to generation. Attracting those who want to better understand the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and dispel the myth that these activities don’t below in modern society begins with synergy. Engaging in hunting and fishing is how we fall in love with the natural world and how we utilize knowledge, skill, culture and tradition to reinforce the interdependence of man and nature. The WHI is a great step forward in a journey to explain and ultimately expand the benefits of wild harvest.
As Dr. Mahoney has said about the WHI, “We are blessed to worry about these issues.” It would be much more tragic if we did not have those who oppose efforts to maintain hunting and angling traditions. That would mean there is no interest and no longer a reason to agonize over the truly invaluable natural gift of a healthy ecosystem. “We have to start thinking about this business that we are in, this passion that we feel, this effort that we make as a movement, a social movement.”
SCI Foundation is dedicated to science-based wildlife management that leads to increased stewardship of natural resources and biodiversity. SCI Foundation is proud to be a major contributor to this initiative as one of our major conservation goals and to reinforce the cultural and social importance of recreational hunting and angling by engaging as many partners as possible.
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Safari Club International Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that funds and directs worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education. Any contribution may tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code section 170(c) as a charitable contribution to the extent permitted by law. Tax deductible amount of gift is reduced by the “Fair market Value” of any goods, services, or advantages that a sponsor receives for the donation. EIN #86-0292099