Sustainable use: Five Years of Furbearer Conservation!

Happy Birthday to us! Furbearer Conservation turns five years old this month!

Five years ago, a local debate about hunting bobcats in New Hampshire was heating up, and by “heating up” I mean some folks were literally losing their freaking minds over the topic. What was supposed to be a discussion on the management of the state’s local bobcat population quickly escalated into a debate about the governance of the state’s game agency, public perception, and the merits of wildlife management in general. Kitchen sinks were hauled, and heaved, and years later there are still some local folks on both sides of the debate who refuse to utter the word “bobcat” today.

Early on when the announcement was made that the NH Fish & Game Department had completed an extensive study with both volunteer trappers and the University of New Hampshire regarding bobcat populations (and would be seeking to roll out a management plan to end the 30-year-hiatus on bobcat hunting based on those studies) I’ll concede I wasn’t all that interested. Trends had shown the potential for bobcats to be affecting localized fisher populations in parts of southern New Hampshire, but outside of that, I just didn’t have too much interest in pursuing bobcats. However, I soon found myself on the frontlines with many other New Hampshire sportsmen who’d been swept up in the “bobcat debates” that, in two year’s time, would bubble over into the political arena – a place where few wildlife management decisions should ever find themselves.

The criticism I and my constituents personally received throughout the onset of the bobcat season proposal - mainly for just being licensed trappers and wildlife control agents - found me fired up, scrappy, and full of that ol’ “take no guff” vinegar that plagues so many die-hard New Englanders. A topic on bobcats suddenly cascaded into a debate on general trapping, the broader hunting community, and casting this culture-base as a minority not worth consideration by a “changing” demographic. It was criticism that was frankly both unsolicited and inept. So much so, that I felt compelled to put my marketing and design background to use, and build a website around the broader polarizing topic of actually managing wildlife.

The website, then known as “Live Free And Trap” (playing off New Hampshire’s state motto) was created and designed as my knee-jerk attempt to "respond" to local activists with my own commentary, facts, and figures which I found to both anecdotally and scientifically support regulated hunting as a conservation benefit.

In a short time, I took that bemoaning criticism, chewed it up, and spit it back in the face of my critics. It became quite clear in a short amount of time that my “nasty rural mannerisms” didn’t quite jive with those local critics. Mission accomplished I suppose.

Over time, that website ebbed, flowed, and evolved. Somewhere in mid-2016 I felt compelled to administer some much-needed restructuring, rebranding, and inner self-reflection - and decided to take more of a resource-based approach rather than continue to wrestle in the proverbial mud with the pigs. Enter: the Furbearer Conservation project.

In a very short time, this “Podunk blogging site” went from being an entity housing reactive rants into a full-blown conservation project - bridging the gaps between hunter/trapper, the non-hunting public, legislators, social shifts, and our professional wildlife managers. It paid off in dividends. Armed with a national web of contributors and advisors, and forgoing the reactionary mud-slinging with animal rights folks, paved the way for a much broader audience. Under the Furbearer Conservation think tank, we’ve increased our supporter-base, our audience, and, frankly, our integrity.

Not to worry - criticism for the animal rights industry still exists – executed editorially in a more refined, albeit still slightly ostentatious, manner you’ve all come to know and love. There’s just so much more to conserving natural resources than trapping and activism; and we here at FC Headquarters plan to explore all facets of human interaction with the natural world.

Looking Ahead

And just like that, five years have come and gone. We’ve dissected misconceptions around predator management, pointed to important aspects of wildlife conservation funding, exemplified the leaps and bounds the broader trapping community continues to improve upon, and even made room to reference the current trends of mitigating the needs of people with the needs of wildlife.

Plans are in place to continue to build-upon and refine this resource as has been processing for the last five years. We plan to expand our reference resources and restructure our articles and columns for easier navigation of topics that suit each of our readers more individually. With such a broad and diverse audience, it is imperative that we continue to serve up the fur-bearing talking points you want to see on a web-based silver platter.

We are also currently working on a content survey for our current subscribers, to gather insight into which aspects of wildlife management and conservation appeal to you. You can join our newsletter list to have that survey and regular website updates delivered to your inbox by scrolling to the bottom of this page!

I’m not quite sure what the future holds for wildlife conservation and management - that is completely up to the public at large. But you can bet your critter-lovin’ backside the Furbearer Conservation project will be here to report on it!

Until the next conversation topic.