Species threatened by climate change, habitat loss
Billy Baker’s April 18 front-page article, “Our Backyard Wildlife Sanctuaries,” rightly celebrates the impressive range of birds and other wildlife seen as their Massachusetts populations grow, in part through changing practices for protecting and managing our lands.
As noted in the article, the return of populations of white-tailed deer, bald eagles, black bears and wild turkeys are examples of how strong environmental policies, coupled with conservation and restoration wildlife habitats, can lead to measurable gains in conservation.
Unfortunately, as Baker also points out, many other species are in decline due to the twin threats of climate change and habitat loss.
Mass Audubon’s latest State of the Birds Report (2017) warned that by mid-century nearly 60% of assessed species will be very or likely to be vulnerable to climate change, including our state bird, the black-capped chickadee.
Compounding the problem is that Massachusetts loses 5,000 acres of forest each year, in part because we rank last of all states in per capita spending on protecting open spaces and parks, according to a 2021 Department of Conservation and Recreation Special Commission Report.
Yet we can all make a difference — in our yards, by planting native species and reducing or eliminating pesticides; and using our voices to advocate for policies that support wildlife and promote meaningful climate action. Together, we can ensure that future generations will see this time as a golden time for wildlife and nature.
David J. O’Neill
A program for hunters is not conservation
I was surprised to see the Globe cover the overly pro-hunting North American model of wildlife conservation without presenting any of the many arguments against it.
The model is being criticized for giving hunters sole credit for the work of many wildlife organizations that have played key roles in the return and protection of America’s iconic species. It also credits hunters with funding habitat restoration and other initiatives when these efforts are largely funded by non-hunters. Less than 4% of the US population hunts, and the 96% who enjoy non-lethal outdoor recreation spend significant amounts in parks and wilderness areas in addition to volunteering to help maintain them. Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management analyzed funding for US wildlife programs and found that approximately 95% of federal funding, 88% of nonprofit funding, and 94% of total funding for wildlife conservation and management came from the non-hunting public.
Wildlife management that caters to hunters results in too many animals they like to kill (like deer) and too few natural predators (like wolves and coyotes) that maintain the life balance of the hunter. ‘ecosystem.
These are just a few of the many reasons why you can’t “conserve” species by killing them.
Michelle K. Reynolds
Senior Writer, Wildlife and Hunting Issues
The PETA Foundation