In the debate over whether hunting in the Coal Canyon Preserve is allowed or not ("Plan Promotes Hunting in Coal Canyon," Sept. 30), I find it interesting to note the qualifications of the two opposing parties. On one hand are trained biologists and plant ecologists who say that hunting is compatible with the overall conservation policies of the preserve. On the other hand we have representatives of various environmental organizations, with no technical training in either biology or ecosystem management, who make such statements as " . . . there is no justification for encouraging or allowing hunting."
People with no expertise in biology should leave the decisions to the professionals. Environmentalists are wrong to make this a political issue instead of a scientific one. Our wildlife does not deserve to be a political pawn in the conservation game. It would be a shame if we allow anti-hunting sentiments to interfere with sound biological decisions.
Some will say that hunting and non-consumptive uses of our wild land, such as hiking and bird watching, are not compatible. Such feelings ignore that hunters and non-hunters peacefully coexist in our nation's national forests, wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges.
Responsible hunters do not damage an ecosystem; they merely interact with it, just as do responsible hikers and bird watchers. For anyone to argue otherwise is a slap in the face to the one group--sportsmen--that has done more for wildlife conservation in this country than any other.
It is both counterproductive and illogical for the environmental movement to continue its attacks on hunting. Such attacks only serve to further polarize hunting and non-hunting conservationists. Such a polarization diverts the attention of the environmental community from the true threat to wilderness areas such as Coal Canyon: the developers who see homes, businesses, and profits where we see wild land. Instead of quarreling among one another, environmentalists and hunters should stand together.