President's Column: Georgia Wildlife Federation
Conservation Requires a Constant Vigil:
You Only Get to Lose Once!
Very often when I call one of our great GWF
leaders or members or activist volunteers about an
issue, they will ask, "Didn't we do this last year?"
Many times I have to answer yes, we did do this last
year, but this is this year and we have to do it again.
This illustrates one of the most difficult problems
with work for conservation and the environment.
There is no limit to the number of times a bad idea
may be put forth in the Georgia General Assembly.
We often see the same bad proposal time after
time, year after year. This has been the case, for
example, with people who want to build right down to
the stream banks without leaving a natural buffer.
Our trout streams in north Georgia have been under a
particularly intensive attack for the past ten years.
Some developers have been so determined to
squeeze every lot (read every dollar) out of their land
holdings that they are willing to destroy the very
cold-water stream that is the drawing card bringing
people to buy their mountain retreats. The sad part of
the story is that we will likely fight this fight again
and again. Meanwhile, a piece of Georgia's most
fragile natural fabric is dying a death of a thousand
This year (and the past six years) we have seen
a proposal in the General Assembly to make it legal
to shoot deer over bait. Each year GWF fights this
idea because it abandons the basic concept of "fair
chase" for sport hunting. An idea like this one also
gives the animal-rights cults an image of hunters that
they can make the most of in their misguided efforts
to outlaw hunting and fishing completely. Again we
fight. This time we fight a few foolish, self-serving
hunters and the persistent anti-hunters in our effort
to deny each group another opportunity to destroy
the very mechanism (sport hunting and fishing) that
has been most responsible for the restoration of
America's native wildlife over the past 80 years.
We see some sort of request every year in the
General Assembly that the author claims will
“improve our community” and “grow our economy.”
Sometimes these claims are true. But many times
they are not and precious natural resources are
threatened without justification. Then we have to
fight, and we have to win. Why? Because when acting
in the interest of wildlife and our natural world, we
may win these battles a hundred times, but we only
get to lose the battle one time and the resources are
damaged or destroyed forever.
So we fight many of our fights over and over. We
must. And we must not grow tired of the fight just
because it is the fight we fought last year.
Jerry McCollum, President & CEO
Georgia Wildlife Federation