One of the things that never fails to amaze me about anglers and hunters is the level of observational wisdom many of us possess, the kind of specialized natural history knowledge gained only through years of woods and water time. John Merwin’s recent blog post is an excellent example of this connecting-the-natural-dots talent outdoorsmen possess.

Knowledge like that is priceless and I’ve always been convinced hunters and anglers could make significant contributions to humanity’s broader understanding of the natural world, if only there was some way for scientists to plug that data into the worldwide research matrix.

And when I saw this story yesterday I realized this might be our chance.

_OSLO (Reuters) – Scientists asked people around the world on Monday to help compile an Internet-based observatory of life on earth as a guide to everything from the impact of climate change on wildlife to pests that can damage crops…

_People in many countries already log observations on the Internet, ranging from sightings of rare birds in Canada to the dates on which flowers bloom in spring in Australia. The new system, when up and running, would link up the disparate sites. About 400 biology and technology experts from 50 countries will meet in London from June 1-3 at an “e-Biosphere” conference organized by the EOL to discuss the plans. The EOL is separately trying to describe the world’s species online.

“This would be a free system that everyone can access and contribute to,” said Norman MacLeod, keeper of paleontology at the Natural History Museum in London which is hosting the talks. Edwards said a biodiversity overview could have big economic benefits, for instance an unusual insect found in a garden might be an insect pest brought unwittingly in a grain shipment that could disrupt local agriculture.

Imagine hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of individual data points from outdoorsmen around the world being plugged into such a system. It’s a brilliant idea, and one that, with our participation, would dramatically illustrate just how relevant we as hunters and anglers are in the global community.

Of course, not all my reasons for hoping it works are purely altruistic. If this thing ever gets off the ground it might just be the ultimate Internet scouting resource…