I've yet to meet a hunter who isn't a conservationist. For the vast majority, buying raffle tickets, attending fund-raising banquets and chipping in for anything that supports hunting resources is simply a matter of course.
And now there's another way for hunters to give back. It's called the Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund (HAPF), administered by the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association (MLOA). But you don't need to own a lodge, be an outfitter or even visit a lodge to be a part of it. All you need is a genuine concern for the future of hunting and fishing in this province.
The fund was created three years ago, after members of MLOA started noticing a trend in conservation funding.
"This type of private contribution is the way fish and wildlife management will necessarily be done in the future," said MLOA President Paul Conchatre. "Governments all over are running deficits and fish and wildlife don't stand a chance against schools and hospitals, so the era of governments funding all the fish and wildlife management and habitat improvement, we believe, is coming to an end."
MLOA first went to its membership to kick-start contributions for the fund. "We have a few lodges who include the HAPF contribution on every guest's bill, just as a matter of course. For some, it's as little as $5 per guest, but when you're talking hundreds of guests over the summer, that adds up and we're extremely happy with that," Conchatre said. At other lodges, the contribution is voluntary. The response overall has been extremely positive.
HAPF has raised $50,000 so far. Half the funds support the MLOA and the other half goes to worthy causes. Funds recently went to Generation Next Angler and Urban Angling Partnership, two youth-oriented organizations that promote fishing.
"We also partnered with the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and Manitoba Natural Resource Officers Association to produce new signs advertising the Turn In Poachers hotline. You'll see these go up across Manitoba later this year," Conchatre said.
"We've set aside a donation to help close a couple of decommissioned logging roads in the Duck Mountains to help preserve moose populations, as road-hunting poachers were using these roads as easy access. Finally, we have committed $5,000 towards the re-introduction of the black bear aging and reproduction study that the province ran for several years," he added.
Conchatre said it's important to note that HAPF isn't just a means to collect and dole out funds. It also supports the MLOA, which is a non-profit organization whose role is to promote and preserve the hunting and fishing industry in Manitoba.
"The fund is designed to assist with MLOA's lobbying efforts to ensure opportunities remain to hunt and fish in Manitoba. Making sure the fish and wildlife and habitat are there is only one half of the equation; the other half is that the political will has to be there to continue investing in these things and in making regulations and laws that ensure hunters and anglers (and by extension lodges and outfitters) still have opportunities to hunt and fish here," Conchatre said.
Need a little incentive to make a contribution? Donors receive one contest ballot for each $25 contributed. There's a draw every second year for a trip to the MLOA member lodge of your choice, valued at $5,000.
To make a contribution to HAPF, call 204-772-1912, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit mloa.com
Shel Zolkewich writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she's not playing outside, traveling or eating. You can reach her with your comments at email@example.com