Don’t worry. I’m not going to go full blown into People Eating Tasty Animals, but there are a few key points I’d like to discuss. As a conservationist and animal lover, it’s interesting that I feel like I have nothing in common with animal rights activists when in theory, we have similar principles.

I fully support the Exotic Wildlife Association. Their mission is pretty simple: The Exotic Wildlife Association’s mission is to encourage and expand the conservation of both native and non-native hoofstock, and to help their members develop and strengthen the markets for their animals. It is because of groups like the EWA that the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle and addax gazelle, also known as the Three Amigos, are not extinct and have over 90% of their collective populations in Texas alone.

Animal rights is defined as rights believed to belong to animals to live free from use in medical research, hunting and other services to humans. If animals can experience pain, then their suffering is just as important as humans. Animal rights activists consider it irrelevant that animals are not capable of reason, speech, self-awareness, etc. Although there are degrees to each animal rights activists’ beliefs, a more “liberal” view is similar to the Humane Society. They advocate the disposal of animals with illness, disease, or severe aggression based on the assumption that death is much better than the horrible life they will otherwise encounter and “strive to alleviate the suffering of all animals” through “humane euthanasia services.”

Listen when I say, I don’t think all animal rights activists are wrong and all hunters are right. I’m totally supportive of people who advocate for animal rights. You don’t want to eat animals. Great; you do you. But, I do think there is a happy middle where hunters and activists can understand one another’s point of view.

Here’s where animal activists get it wrong:

What animal conservation actually means: Hunters and people who truly believe in animal conservation know that we must make certain that species continue to thrive and populations grow to be around for following generations. If we care for the animals, if we want species to be around longer than next year, if we want animals to be healthy, then we cannot have a ridiculous amount of them. It’s a very true statement. As much as I’d personally love to have hundreds of thousands of sweet little puppies and fawns running around, it cannot happen. Land has a carrying capacity based on the quality and quantity of food, water, shelter, space, etc. Cities have a capacity for how many dogs and cats they can house. Only so many animals can live within a certain area. This fact is shown through numerous examples throughout history. The EWA has a more thorough blog on conservation that supports this fact.

Where wildlife conservation money comes from: The most substantial amount of wildlife conservation funding comes from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, game tags, stamps and an extra 11% tax placed on purchases of hunting equipment and ammunition. This comes to almost $200 million each year! Outdoorsmen, hunters and fishermen are 3x more likely to enhance wildlife habitats and 2x more likely to donate money to conservation efforts. While some animal rights nonprofits raise up to $100 million each year, the ASPCA only gave $4.9 million in 2013 to support animal shelters, a mere 4% of its $129 million budget. The Humane Society’s tax returns will show that less than ½% (yes, that is 0.5%) of their budget goes to animal shelters despite an annual budget of $100 million. But, instead of supporting animal conservation, they have $191 million in assets. Lobbying is apparently more important than actually saving and caring for the animals that so many organizations “support.”

What hunting actually is: Hunting is not simply the “murdering of helpless animals” as some activists may think. Do you know what would happen to those sweet little helpless animals if their population wasn’t controlled? Coyotes are not helpless little animals. Hogs are not helpless little animals. Have you seen an animal starve to death? Would you rather wildlife species starve to death instead of them taking one bullet that kills them instantly? Regulated hunting has never led to threatening or endangering an animal species; it controls the populations allowing animals to live longer and healthier lives. Hunting is what men, women and children have used since the beginning of time to clothe, feed and shelter themselves and their families. How does one survive without the harvesting of animals? Anyone who eats chicken, pork or beef, has to understand hunting. They may not have to hunt, but they should be able to understand the harvesting of animals.

Can I get a heck yeah for the EWA and hunters across the country?