I have written before on how I view public lands and why I don't believe that libertarians should champion the idea of turning over of public lands to the states or the sale of these lands, even though I know that this opinion is not widely popular within libertarian circles. But what about wildlife management? I have often read the musings of anarchists and libertarians who like to bitch about buying a fishing license... "Why should I be required to buy a license to catch food that God created? I'm simply trying to feed my family..." Sometimes in people survival type circles, many of whom identify as libertarian or anarchist, will also discuss how in a survival situation that they would simply head to their Bug Out Location or BOL to live off the land, "there is plenty of food up there..." some might say. Some, I am sure even contemplate the free market and the idea of selling wild game meat.
It would be wrong of me to accuse all of these individuals of being unethical or lacking in foresight or an education in history. That said, the last 150 years have given us many lessons in wildlife management and conservation. Some we learned the hard way. Some have been examples of voluntaryism in action. Shane Mahoney of Conservation Matters mentioned in a recent speech to GOABC that, being that we live in a modern world, we need to address the issues facing conservation of wild places and others from a modern perspective. In my opinion this means addressing these issues with an understanding of the various philosophies that might oppose hunting and fishing or land conservation. This means learning to communicate with non hunters, and anti hunters as well as learning to communicate with those whose political philosophy might oppose public lands, or fishing licenses. Being someone who identifies as a libertarian I feel as though I have a responsibility to make these arguments to libertarians, anarchists and everyone in between, because I understand the philosophy and principles.
This is a complicated topic and one blog post will simply not be sufficient for the entire conversation. So this is going to be the beginning of a series entitled Libertarianism and Conservation. In this series I will discuss free market issues within hunting and fishing, the role government ought to play, why protecting our wild places and others, through government, is not a violation of the non-aggression principle, why the early days of conservation were based in voluntaryism, why even anarchists ought to embrace that, and more on why libertarians and anarchists should not be opposed to the conservation of public lands. I want to encourage any readers of the blog or listeners of the podcast to feel free to engage in this conversation. These things are important and are worth dialogue, so please write in questions, tell me what you believe I am getting wrong. I believe wholeheartedly in libertarian ideas. I also believe wholeheartedly in the conservation of our natural resources, wild places, and wild others for future generations as a renewable resource. I do not believe that this is opposed to the ideas of liberty.