Ep. 44: Wild Harvest InitiativeTravis speaks with Shane Mahoney from the Wild Harvest Initiative. Shane is an international authority on wildlife conservation and is a rare combination of scientist, historian and philosopher. Shane is a gifted orator and insightful thinker with a profound commitment to wild nature, rural societies, and to the sustainable use of the earth’s natural resources.
Travis Bader: [00:00:00] I’m Travis Bader and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise of the community. If you’re a new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca where you can learn more about courses, services, and products that we offer. As well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in North America wide liability insurance, to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.
[00:00:43] On the last podcast, I mentioned the life-changing giveaway that we will be doing with The Training Division where one lucky person will win a full tuition paid scholarship to be trained as a firefighter. Follow us on social media and watch for the details in our April 1st announcement. Today, I’m excited to be joined by the president of Conservation Visions and founder of the Wild Harvest initiative.
[00:01:07] World-renowned conservation it’s Shane Mahoney, Shane possesses, a rare combination of conservationists scientists, historian, and philosopher. Shane is a gifted order and insightful thinker with a profound commitment to wild nature, rural societies into the sustainable use of Earth’s natural resources, Shane, welcome to The Silvercore Podcast.
Shane Mahoney: [00:01:29] Well, thank you very much. It’s a great question to be here and I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Travis Bader: [00:01:34] As am I. Now I don’t wish to recapitulate your many accolades and there are many as others have very eloquently done that before me. So instead I will, I’m going to have a complete bio on our website for our listeners to reference. The Silvercore Podcast is about sharing our passions with others.
[00:01:52] What I’d really hoped to achieve with this podcast is to distill your almost palpable enthusiasm for conservation and communicate that to our listeners in a way that makes a somewhat nebulous concept, more tangible. And second, I would like to learn more about the Wild Harvest Initiative.
[00:02:07] So with that said, growing up, I don’t know anyone who’s naturally inclined towards conservation as that concept doesn’t tend to enter the mind until there’s a realization of what could be lost. And it had me wondering, when did you start your journey as a conservationist and what sparked it?
Shane Mahoney: [00:02:27] Well, I think you’re right in one sense that, um, you know, individuals don’t begin, even in their explorations of nature of thinking about conservation. But I think very early in a child’s exploration of nature, the ingredients for a conservation awareness is born. Um, it really starts with some basic elements. Um, one is the fascination with other living things, whether they be insects or sticklebacks or frogs or whatever it might be, butterflies and bees.
[00:03:09] Um, and the other, I think is just a sense of a rare combination of love and adventure that seem to emerge simultaneously, at almost every, any level of engagement with nature. So a young child, um, engaging in the natural world, maybe catching small trout or catching insects or catching frogs. You know, if you were to ask that little human, why aren’t you doing it?
[00:03:47] Uh, they probably shrug and say something like, it’s fun. It wouldn’t get into a detailed explanation of breaking fun down. But fun generally is something that makes you feel good, something that makes you happy, uh, and something that you’d like to have a lot more of. And so I think in fact, the road to conservation can begin extremely early, but I don’t think it always has to, it can start, it can come to people later in their lives, too.
[00:04:25] And part of that is a sweepstake, you know, uh, where you were born, uh, what opportunities you had to be in nature. Um, who your parents were, who your friends were. Um, my particular case, um, my path was in fact established almost from the womb because I grew up in a very rural place, I grew up in a very isolated place.
[00:04:58] And for those earliest of early years, being a part of nature was very easy because it was all around us. You stepped out of your door and that’s where you were. And I lived in a culture in Newfoundland where people lived by harvesting wildlife, fish, they were fishermen, primarily. They raised some animals, of course, for livestock purposes.
[00:05:25] And we all had gardens. And so the lifestyle was very much one of self-sufficiency and rhythms that were determined by nature. And so even as a young child, you began to understand the rhythms of nature, when trout could be caught in the small streams. And when tadpoles would disappear under the mud and when certain bird species would no longer be around.
[00:05:51] So I spent my earliest days engaged in nature, catching eels, catching, catching other fishes off wharves. Uh, you know, surveying tiny little streams that I thought were massive rivers, you know, and learning about the muskrats and the mink and other things that were there.
[00:06:10] So as a boy of three to five, I mean, this is what I did. So I am sort of the exception to the rule perhaps, in that, that was what my life was and in a very true sense, my life has never changed.
Travis Bader: [00:06:29] Right.
Shane Mahoney: [00:06:30] I went on to become a man. I, you know, took degrees at universities. I became a research biologist. I worked with, uh, bear and caribou and moose and lynx and coyotes so on. And did all of those exciting things that people see, you know, and started some of them. I mean, the radio calling programs, you know, the, the jumping out of helicopters. The immobilizing of bears and their dens, you know, all of these kinds of things. Climbing the cliff faces to study sea birds, which I’ve worked on for a long time and being around the sea, a great deal is a very emotionally charged and life-changing thing anyway.
[00:07:14] And so I came into it in a sense from the womb, uh, I was born into that circumstance. I lived that circumstance, I loved that circumstance. And two things came out of that experience. One was more than a fascination, but as I said earlier, a love for wild things that are real belief, they, they were part of my life, the frogs I caught and kept to the insects.
[00:07:43] I kept and tried to keep alive. All of the things I did that way, they were part of, I spent more time looking after them in my family, then I certainly spent looking after my sisters and brother. And so, uh, it transitioned after a while from fascination to something of love. And as I went on my reading binges as a very early boy, I was a voracious early reader and continued that through my university days and to the present day. All of that love and fascination for wild things and any animal actually, not just wild.
[00:08:22] Um, you know, I got to live it out in my research career in wilderness areas for years and years, I spent massive amounts of time alone. Uh, and ultimately I came to a point in my life where I, now my fundamental creed, my Celtic belief, if you will, so I am an Irish citizen as well uh, is that there is no difference between us and them.
Travis Bader: [00:08:51] Mmm.
Shane Mahoney: [00:08:51] I see absolutely no difference between us. We’re different, we’re all different. The Zebra is different from the horse. The man is different from the whale and the whale is different from the great eight, but I don’t buy into any of the ideas that we have dominion, that we have superiority. Some of our talents are superior, in some ways to the talents of animals, some of animals talents are superior to others.
[00:09:19] And yet, despite the fact that I believe all of this to be true, I also firmly believe in the, in the lifestyle of sustainable use. In the harvesting of wild things, the utilization of wild things, and people will often ask me, who know me well, particularly anti-hunting organizations who know me quite well.
[00:09:43] How is it that I can still hunt and fish given the fact that I have these very strong opinions about, um, animals. And I explained to them that the primary issue here is not whether I love them. The primary issue is that I am one of them and that the laws of nature are not made for all the other species and then a separate law made for us.
[00:10:13] There’s only one series of laws of nature, and all of us demand the same things from the environment we live in. We need clean air, clean water, we need food. We need some sense of freedom, all animals seek it. And if you deny it to any animal, including the human animal, you aberate, you change, you deconstruct, you dis you just disassemble, uh, the health processes of the animal.
[00:10:46] We all know this to be true, something else we all share. And, uh, so I simply can see no honest way of living than to live as the animal I am and being the animal I am to live in this complicated world of harvesting other animals and plants and berries and fruits and so on from the natural world, as much as I can, in modern time.
[00:11:16] Um, and I don’t have any moral or ethical uh, problems with that, but I certainly do have emotionally, emotional tensions over the killing of things. And so while I have hunted extensively, uh, it is never a simple thing. And I have very little, if any respect for people who hunt or fish and who treat animals as simply targets and who seem to believe that they don’t feel the bullet the same as we do.
[00:11:59] Uh, they do feel the bullet exactly the same as we do, exactly the same as you would. But again, none of that can change the fact that the laws of nature, the laws of ecology are what they are and I would sooner harvest as much of my food from the wild as I can, I’m very fortunate to be able to do that. Not every one in the world can. And I also feel very deeply that the animals we raise for food ought to be raised in a very caring and ethical manner as far as humanely possible.
Travis Bader: [00:12:34] I absolutely agree. What do you currently see as some of the biggest challenges to the lifestyle of sustainable use of our wildlife and resources?
Shane Mahoney: [00:12:48] Well, there are many, some of them are just mega issues, there are there, there are overreaching issues that are not in any sense, usually local. So for example, the sheer number of human beings that we have on the planet is really causing disruptions to all lifestyles almost.
Travis Bader: [00:13:11] Sure.
Shane Mahoney: [00:13:12] Um, whether one has retreated to cities or moves out to the suburbs or wherever one goes, the sheer numbers of people and the amount of industrial infrastructure that is necessary to service the basic needs of those people is creating of course, a massive problem for everyone and the sustainable use lifestyle, some of its components are healthy because they’re absolutely essential.
[00:13:40] So, all international fisheries are sustainable use activities, and nobody is dreaming of stopping them because the, you know, half the world would starve immediately if we did so. On the other hand, sustainable use activities that some of your listeners might be thinking about, you know, their own activities of hunting moose, or elk, or bear or turkeys or waterfowl, or fishing for bass or Lake trout or salmon, or, you know, Whitefish or whatever it might be.
[00:14:11] Some of those tend to get quite a bit more attention sometimes because people see them as unnecessary. They see them as a little bit, you know, you could go to the grocery store chain, you could buy all your meat from another source. You could get all of your berries and fruits from there. You don’t really have to go out into the wild and do those things.
[00:14:33] And so that’s one part of it where people see, why don’t you be like the rest of the world? The majority of the world, living in urban centres and simply go and get your food that way. And then there are the iconic issues. So the international hunters going to places like Africa or central Asia to hunt iconic species, such as, you know, elephant or lion or something of this nature, which causes a massive backlash amongst a lot of people and even more locally, such as British Columbia.
Travis Bader: [00:15:08] Mmm.
Shane Mahoney: [00:15:09] The idea of harvesting iconic species, such as grizzly bear, for example, uh, or now in New Mexico, there are bills to end all trapping on public lands to end all black bear hunting in the current session, which will probably pass. We have this, this international arena talking about far away, you know, people hunting animals, and then we have local issues, particularly with carnivores, like bears and wolves, especially, where people just say, why are you doing that?
[00:15:44] And if you’re not eating them, then I really don’t think you should be doing this at all. And so it’s the combination of those things. You know, society never stays the same. Society in the 1930s, forties and fifties, didn’t host this array of opinion. There were some people who felt these ways, but not as extensively, but in the early decades of the two thousands. Now we are into the year 2021, we can expect many of these attitudes to be more openly discussed.
[00:16:22] We can look to see more legislation coming forward, but at the same time, I will predict that we will also see a countercurrent. That movement against hunting and things of that nature has moved on enough, matured enough that now you’re starting to see second guessing on the part of people, counter reactions to some of that thinking starting to take place, where for example, people are saying.
[00:16:53] You elsewhere should not dictate the lives of people who live in these rural and local circumstances. And that too is becoming a global phenomenon. So we are going to witness in the next decade, in particular and the next two decades perhaps, a really strong countercurrent exchange between animal welfare, animal rights, hunting, sustainable use, uh, lifestyles and so on and so forth.
[00:17:26] It’s, uh, it’s a, it’s a combination of all of those things that are happening and you know, people in the hunting and, and, and sustainable use space need to realize something. They need to realize several things. They need to realize that this issue of whether we will sustainably use nature is tied up with politics, it’s tied up with social attitudes, it’s tied up with economics. It’s tied up with, uh, you know, the kinds of, uh, cultural traditions that people have grown up with.
[00:18:03] It’s based on so many complicated factors. We tend to try to want to control the easy ones. Oh, and I don’t know if people are hunting and fishing. Hey, let’s get more people out there hunting and fishing, good idea, nothing wrong with it. I have no problem with that, but that is not going to provide us with the insight to know about how we’re going to keep sustainable use harvesting, going in the longterm and the debates over whether we can do that or not are not going away. We’re going to have to deal with those increasingly.
Travis Bader: [00:18:42] Mhmm. You know, I, I have been seeing a shift here in the last few years, particularly with COVID recently. There’s been, I think they call it the locavore diet or the a hundred mile diet or the desire for people to start harvesting their own food locally and in a sustainable way.
[00:19:04] So we’ve been seeing that trend growing in the cities. And with COVID coming in, there’s been a lot of people that have been scared about what they read and see in the media and that fear will instil in them the desire for self-sufficiency. And we’re seeing, on the firearms side, there’s gun stores are reporting massive increases in the amount of sales that they’re making, as well as interest in basic outdoor survival and safety, hunting, self-sufficiency.
[00:19:41] I have been watching a trend prior to COVID that seems to accelerated because of COVID and I have to wonder how this conversation is evolving around hunting and the sustainable use of our resources. Is it going to, uh, evolve essentially in spite of us? There is a desire to get more people out there hunting. There is a desire to have, change the way that we talk about hunting and harvesting animals.
[00:20:09] Uh, we don’t want to call it a sport, we don’t want to call it recreation, even though we, in our province of British Columbia, it is listed under the sports and recreation section of the provincial website. With the correct information, we can start making some correct decisions about how we progress with this.
[00:20:28] And I believe that’s the intention of the Wild Harvest Initiative, is to pool as much information as you can so that you can at least let the data speak for itself to hunters and non hunters alike. Am I correct in that understanding?
Shane Mahoney: [00:20:44] Yeah. If you are in card, correct. In that, I mean, I think, I think ultimately the Wild Harvest Initiative was built out of the very kinds of reflections that you and I have been sharing on this podcast. First of all, a relatively small percentage of society really cares about conservation, only a small percentage. You ask a survey of course, to people over the phone, and everybody will say they’re concerned about it. But the proof of the matter is that only, at this point in time, a relatively small percentage of the population is concerned about conservation.
[00:21:27] Secondly, those that are concerned about conservation are deeply divided. So you have people who hunt and you have people who fish, and people who berry pick, and people who love wilderness, and people who will hike, and people who snowboard, and people who kayak and blah, blah, blah. And they certainly don’t all share all the same views.
[00:21:50] So here we have a problem of the big conservation vacancy that we need to fill. And we have a relatively small number of people who are interested in it. And in that box of relatively small number of people, most of them are inside with like this.
Travis Bader: [00:22:09] I see that a lot. And it’s for the listeners, you had your, your hands in a pugilist stance.
Shane Mahoney: [00:22:14] Yeah. So, you know, this is what we’re up against. And I have seen almost nothing in the last 30 years to move us away from that. Well, I’ve seen hunter retention and recruitment efforts, and I’ve seen people say we all should talk together and I’ve seen various efforts of that kind, but show me the meetings that are taking place.
[00:22:40] Show me the programs that have years behind them. Show me the circumstances where this is actually changing. And they’re very few, they’re very rare and they’re very localized. And you can go across the breadth of Canada to try to find this and you might have a certain committee, you know, funded by a government agency or something that, you know, by virtue of its funding, forces people to come together or something.
[00:23:07] But by and large, you simply do not have this happening organically. Well, the motto on my website is one, you know, one natural world, one humanity and one chance. Cause that’s what I believe it is. And so I wanted to find some way, I spent 33 years as leading research teams, publishing in journals, setting up an Institute, you know, doing all those kinds of things.
[00:23:36] And that wasn’t getting the job done. It was giving us a lot of knowledge about bears and caribou and moose and predator prey interactions and all that and that was all good. But this wasn’t doing anything about building a broader conservation community to advance conservation. So I started to think about, okay, what are the issues?
[00:23:58] What are the issues that fit into these two categories, at the same time? Number one, there are issues that everybody, if you discuss it with them will care about, and number two are issues that are already public in society they’re already manifest. And what of those issues could be helpful in building a community for conservation?
[00:24:34] And I landed, surprisingly, on the idea of wild food and wild harvesting. Why? Because everyone is concerned about healthy food, more and more people are concerned every day about healthy food, the world over. That was not true 25 years ago, it is true today. And more and more people are also concerned about their own physical health, their longevity and their fitness then was true 25 years ago.
[00:25:16] And these trends are escalating in society by any measure. Number of cookbooks, number of people in fitness programs, number of people, taking yoga, number of people cooking at home. Number of people with small gardens, number of people in the locavore movement. Number of people buying organic, number of people complaining about hormones and additives into the food systems that they have, the fear that people have over GMO products, et cetera.
[00:25:43] There is so much evidence to indicate that this is a fundamental movement in society and the sustainable use movement has spent its entire lifetime fighting against the social trends that it thought were damaging. The people who didn’t like hunting or the people that didn’t like hunting carnivores and people that didn’t like one form of use or another catch and release fishing or whatever it might be. I wanted to find a way to work with factors in society that we’re moving in our directions that I could capture and be positive about.
Travis Bader: [00:26:24] I like that.
Shane Mahoney: [00:26:27] So my effort is the antithesis of what has been going on. And I was part of what was going on for a long time. So I know what was going on. This is the antithesis of what was going on. Working with societies change to build more change, not trying to stand up and hold my hands against the changes in society, which is a fruitless exercise.
Travis Bader: [00:26:54] I agree.
Shane Mahoney: [00:26:55] So I can see this idea of food. And then I started to think about, all right well, how much food is there? How much food do we harvest? And the answer to that question was, no one knows. So a hundred years after we start the North American model of conservation, no one in Canada, no one in the United States can answer you the following basic questions. How many species of fish and wildlife do we harvest in Canada in the United States? How many individuals from all those species do we harvest in Canada and the United States?
[00:27:38] What is the food amount of the harvest of all those fish and wildlife in the United States and Canada? What is the economic value of all of that food so that it becomes meaningful to politicians as a discussion point. And what would it cost tomorrow if the 40 to 45 million hunters and anglers in Canada and the United States, didn’t acquire this food on their own and required that food from the grocery store isles?
[00:28:10] How much more wildlife habitat, how much more fertilizer, how much for more petrol, how much more land, how much more environmental intrusion would be necessary to actually provide that? Now every one of those arguments will resonate with the people who are concerned about their health, are concerned about the quality of their food, are concerned about how long they’re going to live and how good they’re going to look and how healthy their lungs are going to be and on and on and on and on.
[00:28:48] And for some, how much wildlife is there going to be in the world that they get a chance to see? How clean water be, how healthy will our land be? How lovely will our forest look, all those kinds of questions. So I set out to do this and four years into this program uh, we are now the custodians of the largest knowledge base in the temporary world on the harvest of wildlife and fish.
[00:29:17] We continue to work on this, we’re adding new data all the time. We are adding new players all the time, new partners. Uh, we have succeeded. We have the government of Texas, the government of Florida, the government of Arizona, the government of Nevada, the government of Wyoming, the government of Alaska.
[00:29:35] The governments already partners in this. We have the gorillas, if you will, of the, of the industry world, the outdoor industry world, Bass Pro, and Cabela’s, that empire. Johnny Morris himself personally, they are a major supporter of this. We have the supporter in Leupold, the great family owned optics company. Uh, Sitka clothing, uh, Mystery Ranch, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:30:03] So we have big players in the industry side of this, on the NGO side, we have an enormous array of entities going all the way from international hunting organizations, such as Dallas Safari Club and Wild Sheep Foundation, all the way to the most determined, localized North American specific hunters like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
[00:30:29] For example, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Uh, the US Sportsmen’s Alliance. I mean, we have just a powerhouse as well as some private philanthropists, the National Wildlife Federation, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, you know.
Travis Bader: [00:30:46] The list goes on.
Shane Mahoney: [00:30:49] And, uh, a lot more. And they are all currently working and funding with us, work to make this work happen. And as we gather the information, of course, we are coming out with completely novel information on the amount of food that comes from wild turkeys, the amount of food that comes from mule deer, the amount of food that comes from elk. And we can divide that up from state, by province, by region.
[00:31:17] And we are now giving, uh, those numbers economic value by dealing with rating entities in Europe and the United States, they give us, you know, the equivalent cost if you were to sell this in the marketplace. And we are coming out with lists of fact sheets that our partners can distribute everywhere. Writing articles, obviously op-eds appearing in magazines. And then now we may have a television show that may be emerging, we’ll see what’s going to happen there.
[00:31:53] The point is that even in the COVID year, We just signed up three major new partners, the state of Alaska, the state of Wyoming and the Wild Sheep Foundation of Alaska in the midst of COVID.
Travis Bader: [00:32:05] Wow.
Shane Mahoney: [00:32:06] So, and now we have interest from Africa. To try and see if there is a way of bringing this model and this program to Africa. And of course, in the state of British Columbia, we have the Guides and Outfitters in British Columbia who have been partners in this for forever. We had hope the Wildlife Federation of British Columbia would join. And I still hope that someday that they possibly they will. But the point is that we do have some support in, in British Columbia.
[00:32:39] And we did have strong political support in British Columbia. At least when the liberals were there in power and hopefully with the NDP there now, they will look at this as well because look, the ultimate idea here is to explain to people that nature is a source of health and sustenance, and we need to care for it because it is capable even in the 21st century for modern societies of providing vast amounts of healthy food as well as recreation, as well as helpful experiences.
[00:33:13] Nature is our free hospital. Nature is our free pharmacy. And so we are expanding our work now to go beyond fish and birds and mammals, and we’re in major discussions with the US Forest Service. To talk about bringing the databases on wild berries, shed antlers, wild mushrooms, firewood harvesting, medicinal plants, wild rices.
[00:33:49] In other words, anything, anything that you might go out and be interested in harvesting. So you don’t have to be a hunter to be a part of what we’re doing. You might be a foreign, uh, mushroom gatherer and, uh, and a mountain hiker, but you know, anybody who was into the harvesting of natural and wild foods, we want them to be a part of this.
[00:34:12] And we intend to export this around the world to remind modern society that we are still ultimately dependent on nature for our survival and for our food and for our health. And maybe to force governments in countries like Canada and the United States to do a better job of managing land for the production of those kinds of things that people want. Instead of making decisions only on the basis of profits.
Travis Bader: [00:34:50] Or emotion.
Shane Mahoney: [00:34:51] Yes.
Travis Bader: [00:34:53] And I, you know, I, I really like the concept of piggybacking on a trend that’s already occurring rather than trying to fight the current. Because, you know, I’m looking through the list of things in different questions and you’re, you’re pegging off a bunch of the ones that I’d like to ask you about.
[00:35:12] But, you know, hunters have always been beating that drum. Hunters are conservationists and they support conservation through the purchase of their licenses and tags and the, the North American model of conservation last hundred, 120 years of, of that has been highly, highly supported by, by the hunting community. Whether they understand conservation or not, being able to bridge that, from the hunting community to the, the non-hunting community, I, I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
[00:35:45] You listed a bunch of different organizations and these organizations are massive that are involved with the initiative. How can an individual who is interested in conservation, who’s listening to this and says, you know what? You raised some really good points, I want to learn more, I want to be involved. How can an individual be involved with this?
Shane Mahoney: [00:36:05] Well, we, we, we do have individuals involved, but it’s, but it’s also important to be upfront and honest. I mean, to be a partner in the Wild Harvest Initiative, there has to be some sort of financial commitment. Now, those financial commitments vary, obviously. You know, you don’t, you don’t have the same financial commitment from you know, a Bass Pro, as you may have from an individual outfitter, you know, it can’t be.
[00:36:31] But what everybody who is a part of the Wild Harvest Initiative knows is that everybody who has become a partner has contributed something to make it, the collective work. So I have lots of people who come and say, Hey, Shane, you know, we’d like to have our logo associated with your, uh, with your partnership and I say, that’d be really great.
[00:36:54] You know, I understand that and I know why you would want that because when we put out our brochures now and we set up our big displays of conventions, and then we show some of the, the powerful, influential people who are on our side, I know it would be good for you to have your logo there, but I have to think about all the people who are there and every one of them made some kind of contribution.
[00:37:19] And so that is one way. If you want to be part of the alliance or the actual team in Wild Harvest Initiative, you have to come with the intention of supporting it some way. Now, supporting it in some way, that way, of course that’s clear. That’s the way it has to be. There was the promise that was made to the partners, the state governments, and everyone else, that people who were inside the loop who have access directly, who get to call Shane and ask questions of the website and their area and all those kinds of services.
[00:37:55] There are on the inside. But that doesn’t mean that people on the outside who may want to know more about it um, who may not want to give money or may not have any money that they can give or whatever. They can still help this initiative by talking about, you know, by, by, by joining our mailing list by, by sending us their email contact information so they can be getting the information that’s coming out and then they can share it with their friends.
[00:38:24] Look, we are determined to establish a new movement in society. This is not a project. This is an unrelenting activity to create a new movement in society that’s made up of, you know, elderly people who get out there in the forest and love to just go with their grandchildren picking blueberries. It’s meant for the, for the, you know, the mad fitness hunter who wants to, you know, run up and down the mountain 50 times before he even looks for an animal.
[00:38:53] You know, it’s meant for the, for the float fishermen who’s going down there. It’s meant for the people who like to seek out their firewood and gather it up and chop, chop it up and bring it home and enjoy putting it on their own fire. It’s for the artists who would like to collect shed antlers and create, you know, jewelry. It is for the people who collect, uh, burrs out of trees to, to do sculptures or wooden bowls or it’s for people who, who, who from indigenous communities and others understand the dissonant plants and want to harvest those.
[00:39:27] It’s for everyone. And if you add up everyone in our society, who does some of that, everyone forty-five million hunters and anglers. Well, how many berry pickers do we have? How many hikers do we have? Who simply harvest beauty?
Travis Bader: [00:39:46] Yes.
Shane Mahoney: [00:39:46] That’s a harvest from nature. We’re going to be including that in our database. You know what, because if you go out for any activity in nature, harvesting berries, fishing, hunting, chopping firewood, collecting wild flowers, collecting wild honey, maple syrup. There’s so many things, no matter what you’re out there for. When you come back and tell your stories, and everybody tells stories, you can’t shut people out there got to tell their stories about nature. That’s the amazing thing.
[00:40:17] When they come back to share those stories, most of what they talk about is not so much the berries they got or the animal they got or whatever. It’s the experience they had, the things they saw, the sunset, the river, the shadows of the moon on the water. They, the, the, the wild flowers blowing in the wind, whatever it is, most of what they talk about is beauty.
[00:40:46] But the thing is, they wouldn’t have ever harvested that beauty, except they went out into nature. And for many of them, they had a primary motivation that day to go to nature. Very big, to get their firewood, to hunt, to fish, you know, they had some motivation that particular day to go. I want all of those people talking to one another and I want all of those people talking to politicians and telling politicians, this is what we want done with our wildlife, our land. And I want to bring the indigenous and non-indigenous communities together because food unites us all.
Travis Bader: [00:41:33] I couldn’t agree more. Oftentimes you hear from people, what can I do? I’m just one person. Well, for the listeners, if you’d like to see what one person can do, with the help of a large team of others behind him, checkout Shane Mahoney’s website, Conservation Visions, check out the Wild Harvest Initiative because when you’re talking about how to get involved, the boots on the ground, networking, that one person is capable of doing. They throw up something on their Instagram feed or they do a Tik Tok or they just raised basic awareness about what it is that they enjoy out in nature and the value in preserving that.
[00:42:21] And by forwarding the Wild Harvest Initiative information with that, they’ll have some tangible metrics that they can be used to measure what that valuable resource is. I think, I really like what you’re doing. We are very fragmented and there is a lot of infighting. My side’s better than your side, or if what you’re doing is wrong and it sure sounds like you’ve got the secret sauce here. If people are willing to participate, for people to work together for our own, everyone’s shared interest.
Shane Mahoney: [00:42:57] We do, we do have the secret sauce. I can tell you this right now. I spent, I spent 25 years promoting the North American model and as part of my efforts and certainly others. People today would not even know there was a North American model if those activities had not taken place. I know that for a fact. Well, I’m telling you this idea is even bigger because this idea could bring together people who are never going to be really interested in the North American model of hunting, but they’re interested in wild food.
[00:43:27] And the other thing about this is that. There’s absolutely no limitation on background or age or ethnicity or racial, uh, uh, background or anything of this nature. Because when you look at all of the products in nature, from beauty to wild plants, to medicinal plants, to mushrooms, to, you know, wood, all the products. Everybody, to some extent, wants some of that.
[00:43:58] We have 40 to 45 million people in Canada, in the United States, as I said, who every year, legally fish and hunt and who consume what they, what they harvest, not all of it, but a lot of it. We are currently running surveys, uh, scientific surveys. Uh, we’ve run one in Texas as a prototype and we are now going to be running surveys in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and Alaska, where we are asking for the first time, asking hunters, starting with hunters, we’ll move on to anglers, asking them how much of the meat they harvest do they share and who do they share it with?
[00:44:45] So let’s say in Canada and the United States, in terms of hunters, we have 12 million, five, let’s say let’s just make it very conservative estimate, say we have 15 million, let’s just say 15 million hunters in the United States and Canada. We actually have more than that. But let’s say that that’s about what we have. Our A priority, in other words ahead of time, hypothesis is that each of those hunters probably shares that meat that they harvest with at least four people.
[00:45:18] And we based that cautiously on a household, so it leads to the wife and maybe the two children. But our initial survey in the state of Texas indicates in fact that the average hunter maybe sharing his meat or her meat with between 10 and 12 million people, the 10 and 12 people. So now you start to multiply 15 million people by 10 or 12 million people.
[00:45:46] Now all of a sudden the group of people who’s actually consuming that wild meat. I’m not saying they’re dependent on it, I’m not being meretricious or air at all. I’m not saying they depend on, I say, they’re just having a burger or they’re coming over for a nice meal, or they’re getting a roast of moose or, you know, a pot of chili or whatever it might be, but they are consuming that food.
[00:46:07] All of a sudden the political dynamic here, it goes from 15 million people to 150 billion, because if that 150 million people did not think that hunting was in some sense acceptable, they wouldn’t be eating the meat that you would provide for killing an animal. And we are going to do exactly the same with fish.
[00:46:27] And we believe that the 40 to 45 million people who hunt and fish in Canada and the United States share that food with probably something like 250 to 300 million people out of the 360 million people that exist in our two countries.
Travis Bader: [00:46:46] Holy crow.
Shane Mahoney: [00:46:47] Now, if you’re a political scientist, you’re a social demographer, you’re an economist. Those kinds of numbers, all of a sudden start to mean a lot different to you in your research, in your thinking, in your writing, in your lobbying, et cetera. So I don’t want to be going back to legislatures, arguing for just hunters anymore. I want to be going to back with a group of people behind me, all of whom want to share in the benefits of nature, who are going to the legislatures and telling our elected officials, ie. the ones who gave them their jobs.
[00:47:32] I want us to be going there as a group of people that wide, and that diverse and telling them we want the right policies for land management and conservation in our countries. And I don’t want them split along liberal, conservative NDP, Democrat, Republican lines, because there’s going to be too many different kinds of us in this group. We don’t care who’s in power, we want you to do the right thing. That is what I’m striving for. That’s what the Wild Harvest Initiative is about.
Travis Bader: [00:48:09] That is absolutely phenomenal. Shane, before we wrap things up, is there anything else we should be talking about? Is there anything you’d like to get out?
Shane Mahoney: [00:48:20] Well, I’m just grateful that we’ve had this opportunity and I would like to listen to, I would like to say that if there are others out there who had their own venues, if there are media people who have talk shows or, you know, shows on radio, for example, if there are other podcasts colleagues that are out there who are interested in this.
[00:48:40] Please get in touch because part of what we are striving to do is to get the word out to as many people as possible, obviously. Um, and also encourage any of the people who listen to this podcast, as an individual or as a member of a group. You may be a member of the Audubon Society. You may be a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
[00:49:01] You may be a member of the BC Wildlife Federation, you may be a member of GOA BC. You may, you know, maybe all kinds of organizations, Ducks Unlimited, whatever. Try to convince your organization to become a part of what we were doing because we are growing. We have at the database, we now have these surveys being conducted in these States.
[00:49:22] We’re way down the road on this thing. And now we’re in major discussions with people about Africa. This is amazing. It has lept already, you know, uh, around the world where people have been hearing about this and if individuals and or their entities want to learn more about it, go to our website. We also have a Wild Harvest Initiative website, specifically.
[00:49:46] We’re looking for feedback on that site, but please consider becoming a partner. The individual can become a partner at a small level. Obviously, if you come from a big organization, like Four Trucks, we, we, we, we look for you to, to, to, to make a larger contribution. There are all kinds of businesses. I assume your podcast is primarily listened to in British Columbia. Is that correct? Is that a fair assessment?
Travis Bader: [00:50:13] Primarily Canada.
Shane Mahoney: [00:50:14] Yeah.
Travis Bader: [00:50:15] Primarily Canada based.
Shane Mahoney: [00:50:16] So wider than British Columbia, so across, um, you know, uh, I’d like for maybe an even in future podcasts, you can start to bring this up and encourage people to get in touch with us, to actually become members, uh, Travis, you know, to actually ask them to, to, to reach out and help us.
[00:50:34] Uh, there are lots of organizations that could provide financial support to make this work. There’s lots of individuals who can do that. And there’s lots of individuals, even if they can’t provide financial support, can talk about this, can tweet it out. Can, can, can put it on their Facebook site. Can, you know, look at the videos that we produce and pass them on to their friends and so on and so forth.
[00:50:58] And believe me, when we throw things out today, we get a lot of reach. We hit a million, a million and a half, 2 million people when we throw things out. So, um, this is, uh, this is a big idea. It’s an inclusive idea. It’s about things we really feel important about our health, the health of our environment and the health of our food. Why would you not get behind this?
Travis Bader: [00:51:22] Shane, thank you very much for being on The Silvercore Podcast. I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you.
Shane Mahoney: [00:51:37] Thank you very much.
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