How much venison did you eat this year? How many trout? Any squirrels, crappies, wild turkeys or bluegills?
How about your neighbors? Friends? Family?
All of that wild fish and game, harvested at the end of a line or via a bullet, shot or arrow, represents a lot of life-sustaining food that didn’t come from a grocery store. It’s got to amount to millions and millions of tons of food.
And that’s just in Pennsylvania. Multiply that by 50 states and we’re talking a huge harvest.
To date, so far as I know, no one’s ever tried to quantify that. But that’s changing.
A group called Conservation Visions is launching an effort to determine just how much “natural, organic food” is taken by hunters and anglers in the United States and Canada in a year’s time.
“It’s time we did know,” said group founder and CEO Shane Mahoney in a press release.
The result is what the group is calling the “Wild Harvest initiative.” It’s a “multi-year project designed to accurately measure the actual biomass of wild animal protein harvested recreationally in the United States and Canada. It will also assess the nutritional, cultural, and economic value of this harvest, as well as the ecological costs of replacing this food through standard agricultural and domestic livestock production.”
The group has offered few if any details on how it expects to calculate harvest totals. But it does have some idea of what it wants to do with the information.
“The results of this initiative will enable a better understanding of the economic effects of land management approaches and help validate those policy and governance structures that best lead to benefits for people, wildlife, and the natural habitats that support both. This will in turn, enable wildlife managers and policy makers to develop best practices for access to wild protein resources, and for extending such benefits to as many people as possible,” Mahoney said.
Learn about the group here.