Sep 08 2010
Well, the first test is behind us… I was sharing some info about hunting and “the commons” on the review day, and that got me thinking a bit more about the Tragedy of the Commons from the the first unit (see previous student post on The Tragedy of the Commons).
As I shared with you, I took a trip to Laurinburg, NC (my hometown) for the opening day of dove hunting season. Mourning doves are migratory game birds meaning they can cross county and state lines. Even though the hunt was on private land, the birds are considered a public resource and so, regulated by the government to prevent a “tragedy.” So, yes, they represent a “commons” of sorts.
So, how does the government regulate this resource in the public’s interest? First, one must acquire a license to legally hunt the birds. So, the number of people who can “harvest” the resource is limited to those who will pay the fee. Second, there is a season established for the hunt. A hunting season limits the amount of time people can harvest (and typically protects the birds during mating season). Third, daily “bag limits” establish a quota for the number of birds one can legally harvest per person per day.
Do all these regulations prevent abuse of the resource (birds)? No. Abuse occurs by people who have no license (poachers), hunt out of season, and kill more than the legal limit. Regulations do little good unless there is some enforcement. So, some of the funds from the purchase of licenses go toward paying for wildlife officers who can arrest or fine offenders.
Speaking of funds, many hunters join conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited. These organizations use donations for projects like habitat protection or improvement. Hunters often get a bad rap, but those that hunt within legal limits and give back through conservation groups help encourage sustainable use. Is it hard to think of a hunter as a good steward?