Our freedom to hunt and fish depends on habitat. While many of us enjoy hunting and fishing on a range of landscapes, including farm fields and reservoirs, there is something special – even magical – about hunting deep in the backcountry or fishing on a remote river.
Wilderness hunting and fishing deliver a sense of freedom, challenge and solitude that is increasingly trampled by the twin pressures of growing population and increasing technology. Many treasured fish and wildlife species – such as cutthroat trout, grizzly bear and bighorn sheep – thrive in wilderness. Others, like elk and mule deer, benefit from wilderness. From the Steens Mountain Wilderness in Oregon to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, BHA members treasure America's wilderness system and strive to add to it.
We take the advice of Theodore Roosevelt: "Preserve large tracts of wilderness ... for the exercise of the skill of the hunter, whether or not he is a man of means."
A land facing ceaseless development. A people overly reliant upon technology and motorized equipment. A quality of life – particularly the sporting life – that seems increasingly in jeopardy.
These are some of the basic tenets of our call to arms – for North American sportsmen and -women to stand up for the wild country and fish and wildlife that depend on it. Now, more than ever before, we need wild lands: places to rekindle the fire at the heart of the human soul. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a nonpartisan group of sportsmen and -women who are standing up for these places and for the outdoor opportunities they represent.
Decades have passed since President Ronald Reagan signed the last significant wilderness bill. Today, with the increased pressures of natural resource extraction and continued threats to the high-quality hunting and angling experience, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is taking a leadership role in advocating for the conservation of wild places. It’s time for national conservation groups from all corners of the continent to set aside differences in philosophy or politics. It’s time to shake hands. It’s time to get something done. The continuation of the very things we love – hunting, fishing, wild places, wildlife – depends upon our ability to move forward.
The visionaries who gave us this great legacy of wildlands – individuals like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold – realized something that sometimes is forgotten today: Without wild places for wild animals, there will be no place for sportsmen to hunt and fish.
"This country has been swinging the hammer of development so long and so hard that it has forgotten the anvil of wilderness which gave value and significance to its labors. The momentum of our blows is so unprecedented that the remaining remnant of wilderness will be pounded into road-dust long before we find out its values."
These prophetic words were written by Aldo Leopold in 1935.
The membership of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers values the traditions and heritage our wild lands, waters and wildlife sustain and we are driven to protect our wild places before the value noted by Leopold is lost forever.
What can you do? Join us! As sportsmen, our power and influence to conserve what we love lies in our numbers. When we speak up to Congress, land management agencies and in stakeholder coalitions, we stand with all our members behind us. With your help, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will continue to grow as a force for our wild lands, waters, wildlife, and the kind of authentic backcountry experience we are determined to pass on to future generations.