The push to stop hunting, all hunting, has been intensifying the past couple of years, which is nothing I haven't expected. It's an easy sell. Why hunt when you can buy packaged meat from the local grocer?

Forgotten, of course, is the fact that the steak in the cellophane package was once attacked to a walking, eating, sleeping animal.

While hunting may be distasteful to some, it does have its benefits, namely, to aid wildlife.

Say what you like, but I often wonder where wildlife would be without hunters.

Hunters pay the bills. Without hunters, then who would pay to re-vegetate the land, buy critical winter range to replace that which is now a housing development, pay to move animals from overcrowded range to lesser inhabited lands, resulting in more food and more animals, pay to build fences to keep deer and elk from highways and speeding cars, pay to building a water supply where none existed, pay to replace lost wetlands, pay to build hiding places for tiny fish so they can grow to big fish, pay to re-introduce animals to their former range, buy feed when they're starving, pay farmers for animals dining on their crops, pay for vaccines to fight off sickness and disease, and pay the tab for all those programs to benefit non-game animals, like otters and ferrets and all those songbirds?

On a national level, sportsman pay million of dollars each year towards these projects. Here in Utah, they spend hundreds of thousands to benefit wildlife.

If you eliminate hunters, who then will replace them and the millions of dollars that go into wildlife projects? Non-hunters?

Several years back, non-hunters were given the opportunity to contribute. They could buy a stamp for $15 and all money raised would go to non-hunting projects, like non-game animals and children's education. After two years the amount of money raised was so little the stamp was cancelled.

Now, there's a proposal to make available a $10 permit that would allow access to state-managed lands. The permit or a hunting license would enable people to visit such places as Ogden and Farmington bays to view wildlife, along with other wildlife areas.

Ogden Bay is one of the best, most accessible wetland areas in the state to view wildlife. Farmington Bay is also a great place to view wildlife, but it is also the home of the Learning Center, which is a classroom for children.

Now there is a doublewide trailer for a classroom. Eventually there will be a steel and glass 14,000-square-foot visitor and education building that will have, among other things, exhibit space, demonstration areas, a 100-seat auditorium/media center, meeting rooms, a gift shop and office space.

Those who visit the center will have the opportunity to learn about old Lake Bonneville and what forces created and drained it, the geology and hydrology that sustains the Great Salt Lake, the biological diversity supported by the lake, the dynamics of lake salinity, and the connection between human behavior and the overall health of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

There will also be a series of trails and interpretive walks that will begin and end at the center. The walks will take visitors out into the wetlands for up-close encounters with the various birds and wildlife.

A trip to either of these sites, and all the others, is well worth the $10 annual fee.

The question now is will the non-hunters step up and pay a small pittance to help wildlife or step back and complain about hunters?


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