The study of American game birds is actually the study of the country itself, from the standpoint of nature and outdoor life. Where proper conditions for these species exist, you will find them in varying numbers according to the amount of disturbance man has caused in their environment, feeding and isolation.
There remain areas in the country which support many species where man's destructive effect is hardly noticed at all. In other places, the wild game has been forced by real estate development, wetlands drainage, commercialization, roads and pollution, to retire into more remote areas. Man has further unbalanced this remaining land and water by allowing natural and domestic predators, such as the house cat and dog, to run wild and feed on game.
However, there are signs, just beginning to be seen, that the country has finally awakened to the need to support the wild things and to guarantee their future needs. State conservation agencies, together with various departments of the federal government, have combined with owners of large tracts of land, such as the lumber and pulp companies, to bring about a multiple-use program - harvesting the timber and crops along with protection for the wilds, for man's and the creatures' benefit.
It is here that organizations such as the Izaak Walton League Of America, the Audubon Society and others have helped in great measure. In still more areas of the country, the practices of conservation have enabled man to repair the damage he has done to the wilds, and to restock the fields and forests with many species for the nature lover as well as the sportsman.
Throughout all this development, it has been the sportsman who initially has been the most active of any group to guard against the bleak future of disappearing wildlife and to see that strong measures must be undertaken. Finally his voice has been heard. Many states are going on land-buying programs to set aside lands for wild-life sanctuaries, recreational parks and forests. Game bird species will thrive in these areas, particularly the birds like the grouse and the snipe, neither of which is given to artificial propagation as are the pheasant and the ducks.
That these steps forward will be maintained and increased in intensity is entirely up to you - the next generation. Those who have gone before, preaching, campaigning and actually fighting for the rights of the outdoors and the wild things, must eventually turn over the reins of government and sporting interests to the next electorate who will take over, as is their right.
This is a big package, loaded with many responsibilities. Industry and an expanding population is land-hungry, and the lessons of pillaging the natural resources have not yet been sufficiently learned by enough people to cause their designs to include conservation in any and all of its interlocking facets.
The way you can help as an individual is to join a rod and gun club and see to it that conservation is the number one subject at the meetings and that more than just debate goes on. All these clubs are aligned under regional or county federations and thus form a network of power which is felt by the state and federal politicians. Surveys have shown that there are a tremendous amount of people who hunt and fish, and who, also, vote.
As a sportsman, nature lover, and one who likes to see the wilds as they should be, you have a great responsibility, both to your fellow man and to the creatures of the wilds. Whether you like to catch a bird in the binoculars, on film in your camera, or whether, in addition, you like to dine on broiled grouse, you have the job of seeing to it that these creatures live as they should, despite encroaching civilization.
Some day you will hand over the reins to your own younger generation who will, in their turn, thank you for what you have done, and will want to keep what you have guarded for them.
Don't let them down!
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