As we all know, them that has the gold makes the rules.
As a result, I’ve always had mixed feelings about duck stamps and other related items. On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense that people who are using up wildlife, the common property of all American citizens (if you happen to live in the U.S., which for the purposes of this post, is what we’re discussing), should pay for the privilege. On the other hand, parks and trails and habitat and so forth cost money to maintain, and when a substantial chunk of that money comes from hunters, hunters will naturally be catered to by state wildlife departments. That isn’t always good news for birders and ecologists. Whether it’s managing habitat for edge-loving species like white-tailed deer (and thus other edge-loving species like Brown-headed Cowbirds), introducing game bird species from entire different continents, or engaging in predator control that might at best be termed overenthusiastic, hunter-centric natural resources management practices are often not what they would be if birders called the shots.
So I’m delighted to hear (via A D.C. Birding Blog) about this effort in Maine to create a birder-driven revenue stream for wildlife. The mechanism is clever and useful; the bands themselves are visible enough that there should hopefully be a positive peer pressure effect from participants; and the funds go directly to support programs for non-game species. If New York adopts a similar program, I will definitely participate.