Refreshing ‘Conservation Hawks’ doesn’t mince words

New outdoor group deserves a chance from sporting community

Last fall, I trout fished Colorado’s White River with Todd
Tanner, a Montana-based conservation writer and fine fly-fisherman.
Guests of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership at its
annual writer’s summit, we had a two-hour van ride along with other
writers and TRCP staff to the river. En route, we chatted about our
backgrounds and mutual interest in important conservation
issues.

Back in Minnesota a few weeks later, I received an email from
Tanner explaining his intentions to launch a new nonprofit group
for sportsmen and women. It would emphasize issues that aren’t
always politically popular, (I’d call them elephants in the
corner), but they nonetheless demand the attention of hunters and
anglers. The organization is called Conservation Hawks, and it
deserves a fair shake from readers of Outdoor News.

With a motto of “Hunters and Anglers Defending Our Future,”
Conservation Hawks describes itself as “passionate hunters and
anglers devoted to protecting our sporting heritage and passing on
a healthy natural world to our kids and grandkids.”

The Montana-based group is different because its leading issue,
climate change(!), is one many citizens choose to ignore or, at
best, debate. Conservation Hawks says its initial efforts indeed
will focus on informing and mobilizing the sporting community on
the climate change issue.

“It’s time to stand up and show we give a damn about our kids and
our grandkids – and about our hunting and fishing,” said Tanner,
the organization’s founder and chair. “If we don’t get a handle on
climate change, we’re putting everything we care about at
risk.”

A press release says Conservation Hawks supports a science-based
approach to climate change and climate change mitigation.
Organizers are convinced that America’s conservation legacy will
evaporate, and benefits from past habitat projects will disappear
if society can’t get future greenhouse gas emissions under
control.

During his trout-fishing excursions across the West the past two
decades, Tanner has seen the effects of climate change firsthand,
and he’s so convinced it’s real, he’ll give you his Beretta if you
can convince him otherwise. No kidding! Tanner’s calling it “Skin
in the Game” and I’ll let him describe his shotgun challenge to
climate change skeptics. He pitched it last week in the following
Conservation Hawks website post.

This post is for folks who don’t accept the science of
climate change.

Skin in the game. You know what that means, right? We need a stake
in the outcome. We have to pay to play. So here’s what I’ll do –
gladly, with joy – for the person who convinces me that our
Conservation Hawks team is mistaken about climate change, and that
we should be looking elsewhere for the biggest threats on the
horizon.

I own a handsome 12 gauge shotgun my wife gave me for my birthday a
while back. It’s a Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon and in spite of my
questionable shooting skills it’s killed a fair number of birds
over the years. So here’s my challenge to you. I will auction off
my Beretta and donate the proceeds to the charity of your choice if
you can convince me that I’m mistaken about climate change.

Or, if you’re not big on charities, I’ll give you the shotgun. No
strings, free and clear; It’s yours. All you have to do is convince
me – with logic, or passion, or whatever means you have at your
disposal – that I’m wrong about climate change, or that my fellow
Conservation Hawks and I are wasting our time on the issue.

Just so we’re clear – I will listen to your arguments. You have my
word. Hell, I’d love to learn that my concerns about climate change
are completely unwarranted. But you’re going to have to be more
persuasive than our climate scientists, and that won’t be
easy.

One other thing. Fair is fair, and we all need to have a little
skin in the game. So if you’re positive that climate change is a
hoax, come to our Rod & Gun Club blog, jump on any Monday Open
Thread and make your case. Only before you do, please visit our
website, hit the “Donate” button, and pony up your end
of the bargain. A few bucks in the kitty will show that you’re
serious about your views and deserving of a thoughtful
response.

Here’s the truth. We have to get past the question about whether
climate change is “real.” If we’re going to come out the other end
of this tunnel, hunters and anglers need to start working together
on some very difficult problems. But first we have to have an open,
honest, informed discussion and put this issue to rest. Let’s start
that discussion now.

-Todd Tanner

Check out the group’s website, or follow it on Twitter
or on Facebook. The group has a photo contest underway through
March 21, and top submissions have a shot at winning outdoor
clothing and gear like an Orvis fly rod, a Sitka hunting jacket,
Patagonia waders, Costa sunglasses, a RIO fly line and an Orvis
hunting coat.

Tanner also spoke with Field and Stream magazine’s Hal Herring
about his Beretta challenge. You can read the interview with
Herring, a fine conservation writer in his own right, here.

Finally, this week’s installment of Outdoor News Radio, which will be posted on Saturday,
Feb. 25, contains an my audio interview with Tanner. Be sure to
give it a listen.

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