By Mark Kenyon

“Hunting is conservation.” This is a catch phrase of sorts for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, but it’s also simply a basic truth. As hunters we play a very important part in the conservation of wild animals and places. In many cases, that happens by default, as our purchases go to fund conservation initiatives. But many hunters eventually come to a place where they want to make that conservation impact even more meaningful, through habitat management on private land, or volunteer work, or fundraising or simply through personal decisions while in the woods. Whatever it might be, we hunters have a tremendous impact on conservation.

That said, do all of us really understand what that means? Do you understand exactly how hunting policies and land management decisions impact ecosystems? Do we understand the different models of conservation? Do we comprehend the impact that humans have on the land and animals that use it? Can we clearly articulate why  “hunting is conservation”? For many of us, at times, the answers to those questions might be “No”. And that’s why I’m so excited about an online course I’ve just caught wind of, being offered by the University of Wisconsin, on this very topic, called “The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold and Conservation.” 

This is a free online course being put on by the University, (that anyone can participate in) in order to educate both hunters and non-hunters on the impact of hunting on conservation and our environment, the great conservationist Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, and a slew of other topics related to that. As a hunter, I always push myself to never stop learning and I encourage others to do the same. I think this is a perfect example of one such opportunity to learn and expand our understanding of the greater impact that hunting has on conservation, the ecosystems we interact with and more.

As I mentioned, the course is free to join and it begins on January 26. The course materials consist of videos, surveys, readings and quizzes and are of course all done on your time, as you see fit. I know a lot of us are glad to be done with school, but this is one class I’d gladly participate in still. It’s an important topic, it looks like it will be well done, and best of all, the price is right. Free!

For more information check out the class summary below, and then click the link to see the full details and a video providing a more thorough overview. I hope that many of you will join me in participating in the learning experience that is “The Land Ethic Reclaimed”, and if you do, look for some discussions on Wired To Hunt on this topic in the future!

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The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation

“This course will provide students with an understanding of the historical legacy of wildlife management and recreational hunting as a part of conservation, the role of wildlife in ecosystems, the importance of ethics in guiding management decisions and hunter choices, and the politics and economics of controversies surrounding game and non-game management, hunting, and conservation. We will also look at the emerging face of hunting today, and contemporary models of conservation. The content draws on the expertise and experience of scholars, researchers, managers, and citizens in the overlapping spheres of applied ecology, policy, environmental and natural resource management …

All learners and “perceptive hunters” are encouraged and welcome to participate, whether they are active hunters, hunting-curious, locavores, or simply nature enthusiasts. We especially invite all who pursue participation in the wild ecology of one’s place, who want to explore the American conservation model and Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic.”