Ask around the countryside of Argentina and you hear tales of people literally walking off of estancias that have been grazed by sheep for hundreds of years. Hard-luck stories abound. One that brings the issue into focus centers on the Benetton family of Italy - of United Colors of Benetton fame. The Bennetons hold several vast sheep-grazing estancias. Once profitable, these estancias reportedly lost the family over $2 million last year.
One bright spot in all this gloom is the new focus that is being brought to the revenue potential of sporthunting and sportfishing. One man at the center of this new activity is David Weissman of Piney Properties in Wyoming. Weissman's firm buys and/or leases lands and manages them in such a way as to optimize hunting opportunities.
He is currently working on two very exciting projects in Argentina. The first centers on the creation of a vast red stag hunting cooperative stretching all the way from the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi in the south to the Collon Cura River in the north. This huge area, comprising many hundreds of thousands of acres, is envisioned to include federal, private and leased land. Plans call for biologists to treat the entire area as one ecosystem and for managers to create cooperative-wide trophy standards, culling practices and joint ventures for the marketing of hunting.
All of this is very tentative at the moment, but meetings are already taking place. Recently, for example, Argentine biologist and red deer specialist Walter Fluck, and his US counterpart, Rick Douglas of Montana, met in Bariloche to discuss the overall red deer situation in the region. They concluded that current management is leading to habitat deterioration, diminished trophy size and overpopulation of red deer. Intervention is badly needed, they say,........(continued)