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Duck hunters: the best advocates for Gulf Coast environmental restoration?

During last year’s BP oil spill, I noted in several different venues that, as someone who grew up on the Gulf Coast, I saw this disaster as another chapter in a long history of active degradation of coastal environments. The spill itself deserved the attention it received… but I also hoped that it would bring the decades of destruction into focus.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one thinking this way about the spill… and efforts to connect the event with the broader threats to coastal wetlands continue (even as stories from the Gulf barely trickle out into the mainstream media). One initiative perfectly placed to tie the oil spill into the longer view is Vanishing Paradise, a coordinated effort between the National Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited to reconnect the Mississippi River with Louisiana wetlands. Though founded prior to the BP disaster (in 2009), the spill gave this program an unprecedented opportunity to bring broader issues to the fore… and to activate a group very connected to and dependent upon the these wetlands: waterfowl hunters.

As coastal Louisiana is central to migration patterns of ducks and geese, and as waterfowl hunting is an important economic driver for the region, getting hunters on board with wetland restoration makes a lot of sense… and, from what I know from my own upbringing, these are people who are concerned about the state of these habitats.

Hunters as environmental activists? If you hunt yourself, or know people who do, this isn’t particularly counter-intuitive. Take a look at the video above from Vanishing Paradise, check out their Facebook page, and let us know what you think (or what you know) about engaging the hunting community in environmental advocacy… they’re some of the most natural (and, often, overlooked) allies we have.

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