Ever since preliminary data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation showed a decrease in hunting participation and an increase in wildlife watching, I’ve seen more than one opinion like this one from the Bangor Daily News Op-Ed page:

_Fish and wildlife management in Maine is controlled by a small number of people whose goal is to promote their own self-interest by maximizing opportunities to kill wildlife with little or no concern for the impacts on those wildlife or on those who enjoy watching wildlife. . . .

By law, Maine’s fish and wildlife resources belong to all of the people of Maine, but the law is not worth the paper it is written on. According to a 2001 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife watchers in Maine outnumbered hunters by nearly five to one and the money spent by wildlife watchers was more than double the amount spent by hunters. In spite of the fact that nonhunters outnumber hunters in Maine by nearly 10 to one, nonconsumptive users have no real say in how our fish and wildlife resources are managed._

Now, I’m not out to indict wildlife watchers in general. We hunters happen to do a lot of wildlife watching ourselves. That said, do you smell trouble here?