Hunters as Stewards
In 2010 the Yurok Tribe launched the Hunters as Steward's Program. This program is dedicated to reaching out to hunters in our region and working with them to act as responsible stewards on many levels related to their sport. Since stewardship refers to the responsible management of something in one's care, they may act as stewards of the game they harvest, the wild environment in which they hunt, and even their families and communities.
It is important to state that the Yurok Tribe has no interest in banning firearms, their lawful use, or shooting and hunting as a subsistence or sporting activity. The Tribe has a rich hunting tradition extending back to the creation of the world. This tradition is one that the Tribe takes great pride in and one that will continue to be inextricably woven into the lives of its people. We share this proud tradition with many non-tribal hunters in our area and hope they will join us in our efforts to educate all who wish to use our region's natural resources in an informed and proactive way. The Yurok people do not view the natural world as a place to visit, to take what you need at the moment and then return to "civilization". The natural world is all around us, and part of us all. Through the understanding of this vital connection to the natural world which provides for our needs, we must also remember that we must be mindful of its needs. Ignorance of this and blind faith that our actions cannot adversely affect nature are dangerous assumptions and should not be tested.
With this in mind, the Yurok Tribe aims to reach out to the hunting community and offer accurate information on important topics. While legislation limiting the uses of lead ammunition may be coming to Northern California whether we like it or not, we as hunters need not worry about such laws IF they are drafted with solid science backing the reasoning for their drafting. If such laws make good ecological sense and will make positive impacts toward conserving our wild lands and the wildlife which makes its home in there, we should not be waiting for such legislation to change our hunting behavior. What has been sorely missing in California throughout debates regarding the ecological soundness of various hunting practices is interaction with the hunting community. We feel that once solid scientific information is assessed and resulting recommendations are clear, we must not move directly to the labor intensive step of creating law while skipping the first, and likely most important step in conservation action:
Arm hunters with knowledge so that they may make informed decisions for themselves.
The Yurok Tribe believes that hunters should not be treated as though they are ignorant or incapable of understanding complicated issues. We believe that hunters are intelligent, independent individuals who, given accurate and credible information, can and will make decisions that are beneficial for themselves, their families, and the wild lands they love and choose to hunt in.
The highest goal of the Yurok Tribe "Hunters as Stewards" program is the need to embrace the hunting community as partners in the conservation of our wild lands and wildlife. We can do this by bringing hunters onboard to accept with us the duty of wildlife conservation. This can, and will, be achieved in much the same way that a groundswell of support from hunters made all the difference in waterfowl recovery successes in North America in recent decades. Wildlife conservation is not just a task for "environmentalists", but for those who love the outdoors and all it has to offer. If you hunt, please join us in our efforts to reach out to hunters and non-hunters alike to talk openly about issues important to hunting, wildlife, and the outdoors. If you don't hunt, chances are that you know people who do. Reach out to them, share your knowledge, share your concerns, and let them know about our program.