With so much scholarship available about the role that ethical hunting plays in wildlife conservation, it seems a little odd that so few institutions of higher learning teach the subject. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana (UM) are about to change all of that with a new college-level curriculum called "Wild Sustenance." It will be a three-credit course that's co-branded by UM and RMEF that, once established, will be made available to other universities. Set to begin with fall semester 2022, this micro-credential program highlights the fundamental role hunting plays in society and wildlife conservation.
The Wild Sustenance course is all about science-based conservation solutions, and about increasing accessibility for new hunters. It features tailored content that identifies why people wish to hunt (and what's stopping them from doing so). The innovative, hands-on curriculum uses cutting-edge technology, including virtual reality modules, that explore field dressing, butchering and hunter ethics.
Wild Sustenance focuses on inclusivity, reaching out to students from a wide diversity of university majors. Modules will remove barriers for new hunters by featuring guest lectures from prominent conservationists and scholars, video clips and other content, in a remote-learning-ready electronic format. Topics featured in modules will include the basics of hunting, hunter ethics, hunting’s role in conservation, firearms safety, processing and cooking game, and motivations and fears related to hunting and hunting regulations, in addition to other topics developed with the help of RMEF.
It's already generating a lot of buzz. “Our own experience demonstrates the tremendous interest that exists among students from a diversity of majors who want to learn more about hunting and conservation,” said Dr. Josh Millspaugh, Boone and Crockett professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana. Millspaugh also said other universities already expressed interest and additional workshops will be available to the general public, including curriculum and virtual reality modules at the RMEF Elk Country Visitor Center.
“We greatly appreciate our partners at UM for their efforts in bringing this long-held vision to fruition,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “This program will trigger a nationwide ripple effect allowing more Americans of all ages to learn about the very real and vital link hunting plays to conservation.”