Editor’s Note: The following contributed to this article: Jeff Watkins, a regular member of the Boone & Crockett Club, Gino D’Angelo, assistant professor of deer ecology and management at UGA’s Warnell School and Dale Greene, dean at Warnell.
Hunters who are fortunate enough to harvest a big deer or bear in Georgia automatically think of the Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) because of its Big Game Records Program. However B&C has long been a leading conservation organization that has championed many key pieces of legislation for wildlife.
Founded by President Theodore Roosevelt and others in 1887, the mission of B&C is to promote the conservation and management of wildlife, especially big game and their habitats. The club advocates to preserve and encourage regulated sport hunting and to maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship in North America.
The Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia (UGA) is excited to be partnering with B&C to develop a B&C Conservation Program at UGA. The program will include an endowed position for a “Distinguished Boone and Crockett Professor.” This effort is also strongly supported by QDMA and the Georgia DNR.
UGA’s B&C Program will join only seven other B&C University Programs in the country, including only three with endowed professorships.
Warnell has one of the top university wildlife programs in the U.S. that educates professional wildlife biologists and managers. Graduates go on to work as biologists, researchers, administrators and consultants in state and federal agencies and in the private industry.
The Distinguished Boone and Crockett Professor at UGA would conduct research and educate graduate students on issues related to managing big-game species in the Southeast. The endowment would provide funding for the professor’s salary, as well as seed money for research projects.
Traditionally, most wildlife biologists got into the field because they liked to hunt. However, times have changed. An increasing number of students entering wildlife management programs have never been exposed to sport hunting or appreciate the benefits of hunting to conservation.
It is now more important than ever that all students of wildlife management programs be trained in the ability to discuss wildlife policy and science, while appreciating the importance of hunting as a tool for wildlife conservation. Today, when it comes to sound wildlife policy, many citizens and elected officials often ignore science in favor of emotional rhetoric. Our wildlife professionals need to know how to address those issues.
One part of the B&C endowment will allow us to establish the “Boone and Crockett Wildlife Policy and Law Center.” This will allow students the opportunity to learn not only from wildlife faculty but also from UGA campus experts in law, political science and business.
The center will not be an actual building, but a program where faculty and students can study the legal, financial and social components of wildlife management. Such information will help to better guide our future wildlife leaders about wildlife management that involves the public, natural resource agencies and lawmakers. The program will prepare students to make and explain game management decisions that are based on science rather than emotion. The end game is that this will help keep hunting as an important conservation tool.
The B&C Wildlife Conservation Program at UGA will require a $5 million endowment. Fortunately, UGA has already earmarked $2.5 million of private funds for this program, and B&C is working to raise the remaining $2.5 million. The goal is to have the Distinguished Boone and Crockett Professor at Warnell within the next three to five years.
Sportsmen and women can take part in this effort at the grassroots level by contributing financially and encouraging others to do so. Every dollar helps.
We need your help!
To make your tax-deductible donation to this unique initiative, go to www.boone-crockett.org/about/about_con tributing.asp. When you are filling out the B&C On-line Donation Form, in the Program Menu select “Other (please specify in Comments Section).” In the Comments area, you’ll need to let B&C know that you want the funds to go toward the UGA B&C Conservation Program.
If you prefer to donate through the mail, send to: Boone and Crockett Club, 250 Station Drive, Missoula, MT 59801.
You can also contact Jodi Bishop with B&C at Jodi@boone-crockett.org to make your donation, or if you have any questions.