is those who have compassion for all life who will best safeguard the life
of man. Those who become aroused only when man is endangered become aroused
too late. We cannot make the world uninhabitable for other forms of life
and have it habitable for ourselves. It is the conservationist who is concerned
with the welfare of all the land and life of the country, who, in the end,
will do most to maintain the world as a fit place for human existence."--
Edwin Way Teale
In a recent e-mail, a reader of this column thanked me for keeping an
eye on legislative doings related to wildlife and natural resources, and
reporting my findings.
He made one big mistake. He asked what he, as an outdoors person, could
do to help curb concepts and bills in the legislature that are threats
to wildlife and natural resources. It was like waving a red flag at a bull.
This was an issue when I wrote my first column on the outdoors--and
related subjects--more than half a century ago. It remains a big issue
in this column today.
My years of observing--and being a small cog in the conservation movement--have
brought about the feeling that bogus bills in the legislature are spawned
by many sets of conditions.
In many cases, bills that would be detrimental to wildlife and natural
resources are designed to appease a small segment of the legislator/authorís
constituency without regard to others or the welfare resource. There was
a time when the prime concern in such matters was the welfare of the resources.
Unfortunately, over the years that has changed.
And while this set of circumstances can paint the legislator/author
as a callous, unassuming nerd in the eyes of those who know the importance
of resources in life, there is a good chance that the perpetrator is not
aware of the foibles of his/her legislative brainchild.
Of course, horse-trading, political cronyism, frivolity, and other deterrents
to the enactment of good, solid laws have been a part of the legislative
process since the Neolithic Age. But there is a chance that legislators
will be more cognizant of the needs of resources if they were somewhat
knowledgeable in such matters.
As I see it, shortcomings of the legislature in processing bills that
relate to resources are not likely to change unless we improve the process
by which legislators are apprised of the merits and foibles of bills.
There has always been a small core of legislators who are well informed
on the needs of wildlife and natural resources. And the bipartisan Natural
Resources Summer Study Committee has done a good job of weeding out concepts
that do not fit in the scheme of good management practices.
Still, every session of the Indiana General Assembly must waste time
dealing with bills that would bring problems. Occasionally they pass and
So what is the answer to the problem?
Heretofore, so far as I can see, there has been little effort by anyone--including
sportsmen and conservation groups--to educate legislators . . . all legislators
. . . in the importance of wildlife and natural resources.
I will not deny the importance of such matters as budgets, building
places for rich athletes and pro franchise owners to play their games to
get richer, and many other issues. But in the final analysis the way we
manage wildlife and natural resources will be as great a factor--perhaps
greater-- in the lives of our grandchildren and their children.
If wildlife and resources canít live on Godís good earth, it is not
likely that we can.
RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH--House Joint
Resolution 4, which eventually may change the Indiana Constitution to provide
that Hoosiers have the right to hunt and fish, passed the House of Representatives
on January 25  in an 83-15 vote, and the Senate on March 22 on a
Rep. John Ulmer (R-Goshen) has championed the resolution that must be
adopted by another Legislature after a general election, then be accepted
by voters of the state on a referendum in a general election.