Hunting Heritage Symposium
In Texas, like many rural states, hunting is more than a sport and a management tool — it's a way of life. And gathering around a campfire to celebrate the hunt, honor the game animal and make future plans is an integral part of hunting.
That tradition continues on a grand scale here Dec. 3-6 at the 7th Governor's Symposium on North America's Hunting Heritage.
"Hunting has been an important part of Texas' heritage," said Governor Rick Perry. "Through this symposium, hunting enthusiasts from across North America will share ideas and opinions that will foster a better understanding of the role hunting has played in our culture and its continued role in habitat conservation."
The first Governor's Symposium on North America's Hunting Heritage was in Montana in 1992, and participation has increased at other sites at each subsequent gathering. This year's symposium is expected to draw more than 600 people from Canada, Mexico and the United States to work on "taking action to secure the future of hunting in North America," (which is the theme of this year's conference).
Attendees are expected to ratify a hunting accord created during the 2000 symposium in Ottawa, Canada, that established the following:
- Hunting is a sustainable activity with deep cultural and social roots and tremendous economic impact.
- The hunting communities and governmental agencies have created hunter safety and education programs that have made hunting safer than most other outdoor activities.
- Hunting has generated billions of dollars that support habitat conservation and enhancement that benefit all wildlife, including game animals.
- The hunting community is dedicated to using science-based information to manage wildlife populations and habitat.
The hunting accord works to articulate and teach ethical principles of hunting and to develop good relations between hunting groups and governmental agencies that regulate hunting and work for wildlife conservation.
This year's symposium will also focus upon the recruitment and retention of hunters, with the goal of finding efficient, action-oriented programs that government wildlife agencies and hunting organizations can implement. The findings of the recently completed Future of Hunting in Texas strategic plan will help guide attendees.
"For several reasons, including access limitations and cost and time constraints, the number of hunters nationally has declined in recent years," according to Robert L. Cook, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "A continued drop in hunter participation could be devastating to wildlife conservation efforts because hunters do so much economically and socially to maintain and improve wildlife habitat."
Topics of discussion at the symposium that planners hope will shed light upon possible solutions to this problem include presentations about the financial impact of hunting, hunting and landowner relations, and hunting ethics and the media. The keynote address for the conference will be delivered by Gov. Perry. Guest speakers include Steve Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Rollin Sparrowe, president of the Wildlife Management Institute, Don Young, executive director of Ducks Unlimited and Rob Keck, executive director of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
A reception on Wednesday evening, Dec. 3, kicks off three days of seminars, workshops and panel discussions with a banquet Saturday evening. Hunters and members of hunting organizations are encouraged to attend.
Registration for the event is $300, (or $265 before Oct. 31) and includes attendance at all meetings, the opening and closing banquets, exhibits, displays, meals and transportation to a participatory shooting event. For registration information, visit the Web (www.tpwd.state.tx.us/hunt/heritage/), or call (512) 389-4979.