Conservation Groups Have Alienated North Dakotans


Conservation groups are griping about the position they find themselves in. They think more dollars need to be dedicated to conservation, but they feel like they don’t have those dollars. Nor much support among North Dakotans.

“We haven’t done a very good job of mobilizing our sportsmen and women,”Eric Lundstrom, of Ducks Unlimited of Bismarck, told a conference on the Future of Hunting in Bismarck recently.

That’s an understatement. Not only have groups like Ducks Unlimited not mobilized the masses, they’ve managed to alienate a vast swath of them in North Dakota. Ducks Unlimited was the headline group behind Measure 5 last year. That ballot measure was a blatant money-grab, a power move for a conservation slush fund backed by millions of dollars spent on slick advertising, which barely managed to get 20 percent of the vote.

Along the way I’d be willing to wager that Ducks Unlimited lost a lot of dues-paying members in North Dakota. Judging by the feedback I’ve received from SAB readers, there are a lot of people who were formerly supportive of groups like Ducks Unlimited in the past but who will no longer support the group because of their political activities.

Conservation is a worthy goal, but the actions of groups like Ducks Unlimited has made many people wonder if their goal is actually conservation or attaching themselves to North Dakota’s tax revenue streams like a tick.

If Ducks Unlimited and its fellow conservation groups want to get back in the good graces of North Dakotans, they could focus their energy and resources on actual conservation programs instead of multi-million dollar political campaigns.

And they could start by apologizing for Measure 5.