Photo Credit: Tom Grey
A Conservation Giant Remembered: Red Hunt Remembers...
From Red Hunt, former Chief of the California Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Management Division…
Dan's work with legislators, agency administrators, and private organizations is well recognized and had important payoffs for waterfowl. However, my favorite story about Dan's power to influence others relates to his work with native Alaskans.
Dan was a member of a team that tried desperately to halt a decline in goose populations in the 1980's. The problem involved three species of goose that wintered primarily in California and Mexico and spent spring and summer on the Yukon-Kuskakwim Delta (Y-K Delta) in Alaska. It was widely suspected that excessive harvest was a major factor in causing the decline. At issue was the question as to whether the decline was caused by harvest at one or both ends of the Flyway. Also, could a resolution be effected that would satisfy the various factions involved.
The natives of the Y-K Delta were hesitant to become engaged. Early attempts locally to solicit their participation did not obtain the desired results. It was decided that team members from California should contact the natives and encourage their full participation. Visits were made to several villages and family fish camps, and one on one contact made with residents.
Dan's low-key and straight forward approach, and obvious concern, and interest in the native point of view, won over many natives on the spot. I firmly believe that these conversations were the single most important factor in gaining full native support and involvement.
Subsequently, meetings were held in native villages on the Y-K Delta and in the Sacramento Valley to fully identify the cause of the decline. Actions taken included modification of the spring subsistence harvest of the three species of geese on the Y-K Delta; closure of hunting one species, and modification of hunting on two others in California. The result was a reversal in the decline of all three species.
All this was accomplished with a handshake agreement without sanction by official regulation, except for the closure of the goose season in California. Things all began to fall in place because of Dan's straight forward and convincing discussions with the natives in Alaska. He continued to exert influence throughout the problem solving process. He was a man of his word, someone you trusted. That gift helped all of us.
The CVJV partnership has earned an impressive record of accomplishment since its inception in 1988, and is making great progress towards meeting the objectives identified in its 2006 Implementation Plan.
Around the Valley
Follow these links to learn about some of the important bird conservation work happening in California's Central Valley.