As Hunter Numbers Decline, How Will We Fund Wildlife Conservation?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 1st, 2012 | 91 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living

Whether you’re an avid sportsman or purely a wildlife-watcher, it’s a fact that the animals, birds and fish you endeavor to see are “paid for” mostly by hunters. Those who engage in hunting, fishing and trapping are the major contributors to conservation funds in almost every state. Surprisingly, the monies animal-viewers and birdwatchers donate to conservation efforts rarely add up to even a third or a half of what hunters put into department of natural resources funds — even though watchers greatly outnumber them.

In my own state of Wisconsin, deer-hunting licenses and permits generated $22.7 million in revenue for the department of natural resources in 2010. And in most years, an excise tax on hunting equipment provides an additional $10 million to the state for wildlife management — in one case, supplying $400,000 to study and prepare for the likely arrival of a deadly bat disease. The problem is, however, that the number of hunters — along with anglers and trappers — is declining. And it promises to keep decreasing as the population ages.

So as the economy tightens, causing state and federal budgets for wildlife conservation to continue to be cut, and if younger people are not taking up hunting and fishing, where will future environmental monies come from? 

As hunter numbers go downhill, there’s an uphill battle for funds

Yellowstone bison

In the past, unregulated hunting, fishing and trapping were responsible for extirpating many species of wildlife, such as the American bison. ©John T. Andrews

It’s true that in the past, unregulated hunting, fishing and trapping have been responsible for extirpating many species of wildlife. By the early 1900s, for example, American bison had been almost eliminated from the Great Plains forever due to unbridled harvesting. And a similar story can be told for many species: elk, sturgeon, turkeys and wolves, among them.

But early conservation leaders — such as George Bird Grinnell, Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt — helped put in place the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, whose tenets include using wildlife in a sustainable manner only, managing wildlife based on scientific principles, and requiring that the fees collected from those who use wildlife be used only for managing that wildlife. These guidelines have not only helped bring back game species, such as ruffed grouse, but also non-game animals, such as bald eagles, from the brink of extinction.

But today, in Wisconsin, for instance, 68 percent of hunters have more than 30 years of hunting experience. The projection from this demographic is that there will be a decline of about 25 percent in those who hunt by 2030. This will translate into a loss of more than $4 million in revenue to the state’s fish and wildlife fund each year. That fund also pays for game management and conservation law enforcement, as well as ecosystem restoration and management.

Carrying an inordinate load

But while the number of hunters seems to be on a downward swing, the number of wildlife viewers appears to be healthy and growing. For example, in the largest wildlife area in my state, Crex Meadows, a full 70 to 80 percent of the 120,000 annual visitors come solely to view wildlife.

Bald eagle

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation not only helped bring back game species, but also non-game animals, such as bald eagles, from the brink of extinction. ©Bob Leggett

Yet, it is still the 20 to 30 percent of visitors to Crex who are hunters or trappers who provide nearly all of the funds for acquisition and management of Crex lands. Funding for the wildlife management program at Crex is received from the sale of hunting and trapping licenses, purchases of duck stamps, and a federal tax on guns and ammunition.

It seems clear that wildlife viewers are not encouraged — nor do they feel responsible on their own — to share in the load of conservation costs.

Some have suggested an excise tax on non-consuming equipment — such as binoculars, hiking boots or waterproof pants — to help fill in the budget gap that will result from a dwindling number of hunters; but so far, the idea hasn’t gained ground.

Like other work that needs to be done, conservation of our natural resources costs money. But the current model for conservation funding relies on hunters and fishermen. With their numbers declining, should we be fashioning a new model to fund our conservation efforts — one that includes wildlife-watchers?

Happy trails,


Feature photo: Deer hunting generated $22.7 million in revenue for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2010. Where will conservation funds come from when hunter numbers drastically decline? ©John T. Andrews

Be a wildlife-watcher from the comfort of home with nature videos on!


  1. I think that there is a need to have local, state and national annual/day passes for entrance into sites to support the wilderness. Yes, it hurts to say that, but the reality is that without it things will change for the worse. I have always supported the Federal Golden Eagle, even though I was rarely able to use it where I use to live as most of the parks were at least a two day trip to reach. Now I have the senior lifetime pass for which I paid $10. It’s a great deal, as I now live in Florida and have sites to visit. However, I would not be opposed to paying $50-100 for a lifetime pass or in my working years $25-50 for an annual pass, if I could make some use of it.

    We can’t continue to rely on the hunter to support the wilderness areas. We should all participate to maintain them for our enjoyment and that of future generations to come, or they will not be there. There may come a time when they will be on the auction block to raise funds for the few that will remain and we know what will become of the wildlife when that happens.

    Mark Fuge | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  2. Excellent article! A lot of people don’t understand where the money actually comes from. A related issue is the effect Whitetail deer have on forest health here in the east and what effect the declining numbers of hunters will have on reducing those populations.

    Earl 'Bud' Reaves | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  3. Thanks for sharing this article Candice! What a great topic of conversation. I come from the Ocean side of things where I deal with marine conservation. Money is very tight for my field and a number of jobs and projects have been cut by government and private companies.

    A new funding model is very necessary and I think it falls on everyone to shore up some funds, not just a specific group of people. I’m not talking about taxes (we are taxed enough already in my humble opinion), but perhaps more funding to organizations who are out to conserve lands and oceans.

    The continued increase in internet use has opened the flood gated to exchange money via the web for products and services. Organizations can take advantage of this, however, I find that many small to medium sized organizations do not spend much time optimizing their websites to get the traffic they need (i.e. Search Engine Optimization and Social Media). Perhaps a focus on this area would increase funds for organizations, which would put more focus on protecting lands and oceans.

    Just a thought…

    Andrew Lewin | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  4. Isn’t this what everyone wanted. A product of demonizing the hunters, over regulated gun control, over regulated hunting regulations, over taxing the sporting goods industry all to build and support a bloated government run bureaucracy. I’m a Tree Hugger and I’m also a hunter. I teach kids all summer long about nature and our roll in it. Lets look at returning to the states the roll of conservation. Whats good in Colorado might not be good in Connecticut and there are enough concerned citizens to effectively manage locally vs a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington bending to special interest groups. Just look at the fight over plastic bottles in the Grand Canyon. We The People got it right the bureaucrats were just looking at the “MONEY”

    The answer isn’t to raise more money.

    Chris Kimberly | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  5. I have heard the idea of a special tax to be placed on bird-watching equipment (binoculars, field guides, field notebooks, photography, etc) before, but it is something I have also heard vetoed by Audobon and the ABA as well. It is hard for people to place a dollar on something they want to “see”, but if you aren’t willing to place more than a dollar on wildlife, you may find only a dollar’s worth of wildlife beyond your doorstep.

    Having come from a state (Delaware) where available hunting land is limited, and the culture is shifting away from hunting as a recreational sport, I am in agreement with you that those who enjoy the aesthetic portion of wildlife ought to pay for it as well.

    Adam Mitchell | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  6. Chris Kimberly | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  7. That’s an interesting blog. I will self-identify as a non-hunter, though I don’t have a problem with sustainable hunting activities. I’ll address the issue as it relates to deer hunting. WI example: the landscape has been manipulated by DNR (and development in general) over the years to create more edge habitat (deer habitat) and thereby keep their population numbers high. A higher deer population equates to more hunting license revenue. However, if the number of hunters is decreasing, then the concern is two-fold. 1 – How can we get more revenue to fund wildlife conservation? AND 2- How will we manage an out-of-control deer population?

    1 – The fees for hunting are required to perform the activity. Logic would dictate that a simliar fee should be required for viewing. However, that goes against many who believe that viewing shouldn’t be a limiting activity. I put myself in that category and am torn on what would be the best solution here.

    2 – The main predator for deer, the wolf, is largely absent from the WI landscape. The main predator for deer (absent hunters) is disease. Without hunting to control the deer numbers, the deer population will explode. When disease breaks out, the results can be devastating. As an example, look at Chronic Wasting Disease.

    Megan Sutherland | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  8. Blue Ridge Outdoors conducted an on-line survey asking the question “Would you be willing to pay user fees to access public lands? The results were
    YES: 71%
    I agree with the “yes” respondents who stated fees (preference was purchase of annual pass) would have to be dedicated to the facilities maintenance, & resource protection, and conservation efforts.

    Michael Kiehn | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  9. I really don´t agree that hunters or fishermen should fund the wild life conservation.

    It could also be ridiculous to promote fishing or hunting to fund wildlife, after some time you will have more hunters and fishermen and less species, and later no one will be not happy.

    Although their money can be useful, as tourist or visitors services providers can also be a good source for funding, I always thought that conservationism is just like education, an investment for future generations. So governments (federal, state, local) should have to put the biggest part of the cake.

    Rodolfo Cianciarelli | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  10. Great topic and a critical discussion to get serious about.

    (USA) TOURISM: Annual Non-sporting wildlife tourism (2006 stat’s I believe) was at $45 million generated (hunting then was at $75 million). Same scenario as Edmund stated as to where tourism/wildlife watching dollars go.

    Q: Is it fair to ask more of these stakeholders simply because these dollars essentially go into state coffers and not their own F&G agencies? This isn’t a choice offered to wildlife watchers and therefore no voice has been given forth to them.

    GUN TAX: Weapon tax dollars (“P-R dollars”) in 2010 were $749 million. Last report I’ve found stated that today* (unlike 1937) roughly 50% of these weapons are no longer sport-weapons but are personal use, law enforcement guns, etc.
    *That 50% is likely higher today.

    This means that roughly $350 million P-R dollars annually have been originating from non-sporting stakeholders. This debunks the propaganda from sportsmen; they don’t exactly fund conservation as much as they did decades ago, and still emphatically claim today. Why should they also pay for a watching license, and what services would they receive under today’s agencies? I’m not saying they wouldn’t or shouldn’t, but you have to give something before you can ask to take much more here.

    Further, considering that F&G / conservation policy is by majority led and decided among sporting groups & individuals, how much discussion is really open to being heard from by other stakeholders? Are these leaders genuinely even ready to concede that hunting is declining? What are they willing to give back to this new customer base, who not only doesn’t partake in their “Heritage” but strongly disagrees with much of the archaic activities the agencies still sanction? I’m not speaking anti hunting, I’m speaking activities that do not have anything to do with conservation -some that do not even financially contribute. It’s worth noting that these activities are the driving wedge of opposition.

    These questions pose a conundrum and, in my opinion, will have to be addressed first in a top-down approach. Why? because after a decade of papers published by Leaders peers, Human Dimensions experts, workshops… all exclaiming that reform is needed… we appear still stuck with “an old dog not willing to learn new tricks” scenario.

    Katherine McGill | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  11. Although I am not an avid hunter or angler, I have and would continue to hunt and fish. While I practice catch and release in fishing, and keep only the fish that is edible; I also only hunt that of which I am willing to eat. I absolutely have nothing against other hunting and fishing philosophies, it’s just not me. I also try to donate funds to wildlife conservation funds, mainly Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund. In my opinion, there are two major influences why funding is down. In both donations and hunting, the funding has decreased as a result of current economy. Every aspect of the economy is still struggling; and the environment is no exception to this issue. With less money coming in, or the concern of future profits; people hunt and donate less. The other major influence is exactly what is mentioned in the blog, the decline of hunters. The generation group of 20-30 year old’s is less interested in hunting than the previous. Their children will be even less interested, and the trend will continue. In my personal experience, I have spoken to many classmates, coworkers, and others; and while many of them have nothing against hunting, they will not go for they have no interest. So I raise the question, how do you raise the interest and awareness of the hunting community, as to get more involvement?

    As to the idea of wildlife watchers making more of a contribution; I absolutely agree with this idea. If the wildlife watchers community is the majority of users, than it is time to contribute more. I like the idea of an excise tax on binoculars and such, but I don’t believe it is enough. Then thought of watcher fees (or increased fee depending on the park) will maybe help. Yet, I think the largest income could come from membership fees. Organizations that state they are all about conserving or preserving wildlife should start funding more into the actual wildlife and it’s habitats. There are organizations available in the U.S. that make millions of dollars and don’t put a dime into wildlife conservation; yet these groups and their members expect wildlife management to fund itself and be available for their use for free.(?)

    Dan Zerinskas | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  12. OK, Katherine, we are going to have to agree to differ on our opinions in certain fields,

    We know that there is plenty of money in the “non-hunting” field that would be better off going into Conservation and wildlife management. We agree on that point.

    The major point here, is how do we channel it into our coffers, rather than it just being spent in the tourist and twitcher trade. [I hope I'm not offending anybody there - a twitcher, in European terms, is a birdwatcher who 'chases the lists' - not an offensive term .... ].

    Let’s start the open discussion here.

    Perhaps, if we can forgive and forget our differences, we can come up with a policy that we could [and here we are really hoping for something] propose as a joint policy to the powers that be ?

    Edmund Stammers | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  13. Ok, Edmund, I can agree to disagree. But the fact remains we stand at two opposite ends (me not as much as you might assume).

    So, you want to know how state agencies can get their hands on the tourism dollars, correct?

    Katherine McGill | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  14. We have to keep people interested in wildlife – the natural world.

    Visitation to national parks has declined 23% per capita since its peak in 1987. As you state, hunting and fishing is down – dramatically during this time span. This decline in appreciation of the natural world is happening in the other industrialized countries.

    One way to get people re-interested is though the use of robo-cams and the internet generally. Another is it get more involvement in schools – elementary schools and universities.

    I don’t think we can change the decline in wildlife appreciation (it is tough to say “appreciation” when talking about hunters), we need to take advantage of the new internet-world and the world we live in.

    John Byrne | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  15. Maybe the Peta people can make up the lost revenue from the decline of hunters, trappers and fisherman ?

    John H Gaukel | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  16. A nicely written, thoughtful article.

    I cannot help noticing the assumption – here and elsewhere – that funding of the conservation of wildlife is assumed to be the fiscal responsibility of those deriving some immediate benefit from it: hunters on the one paw; observers on the other. This view completely fails to take in to account the importance to life in general and human existence in particular of biodiversity.

    As Candice Andrews points out, much American wildlife has already been either wiped out or brought to the verge of extinction by the mercantilism of earlier years; the danger is that this process will be furthered by continued reliance upon those immediately involved – hunters and viewers – for the funding of conservation. What to do?

    Even if those whose principal interest in wildlife is observing it could afford to stump up more funds – highly unlikely, in my view – I seriously doubt they would be prepared to do so to the necessary extent. Hunters, we’re told, are in numerical decline; they tend to have deeper pockets – the growing population of gentle observers shallower.

    Surely the logical inference from the above is that the conservation of the wild can realistically be funded only from general taxation – not by reference to the commercial considerations that distort the actions of municipal, state and federal authorities alike. The benefit of conservation accrues to society as a whole; it is right that society as a whole pay for that conservation.

    Lest there be any doubt: I am a conservative of the Tea-Party persuasion, although – admittedly – more a patrician.


    Pericles | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  17. We have to have paid passes (daily or you can buy a year pass) to park anywhere up in our local mountains to go hiking. I love the great outdoors, so for me it is worth it.

    Bonnie Jean Flach | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  18. Katherine, I don’t actually think that we are that far apart – I do however think that certain extreme elements have put each of our “hackles” up on other forums, which in turn has drawn out the worst in our personalities. That is why I suggest that we try to work together..

    But no, I don’t want to know how State Agencies can get their hands on the proceeds of tourism – that would not help anyone. Cash going into any State Agency, in any country, gets eaten up by administrative costs, conference expenses, etc.

    I do, however want to work out how we, as a group of professionals, can find a way to get these funds back to be spent on the ground. Be it research, habitat management, reserve creation, environmental improvements or species protection.

    Is there an opportunity here to create an International body of like-minded people with enough weight to rise above politics – bearing in mind that there are some fairly “heavyweight” members of this group, across a broad spectrum of disciplines, in all corners of the Globe?

    Edmund Stammers | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  19. What about those dollars funding the Forsythe-Chafee pot for non-sporting wildlife uses? The Treasury gets 3% of Pittman-Robertson, right? Same for the F-C. Then wildlife agencies have to come up with programs that would qualify for these funds… WITH input from non-sporting stakeholders of course.

    This is what I would propose for the $300+ million annual non-sporting P-R weapon tax dollars as well, for the record.

    I must ask, how (easily) will those tourism dollars get pried away from the state’s coffer and present spending? I would wager that amending the weapon tax would happen before this could.

    Katherine McGill | February 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  20. Charge developers more who are building on “greenlands”.

    Geri Poisson | February 3rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  21. We need to teach our youth to hunt, fish and appreciate the outdoors instead of raising overweight couch potatoes. I think anti hunters need to be educated on what happens when hunter population decreases both to the animals and to funding. Imposing additional fees to use our natural resources such as passes is not the answer. I for one would not buy a pass for such things on top of state and county park passes I already buy. Check with your state wildlife conservation department and see where the money is going. Don’t forget that a portion of state park permits, boating fees, snowmobiling permits, etc ALSO go to help with funding. You may find that the money is being diverted and/or misappropriated. Support groups and organizations that try to plant the seed of conservation in our youth or teach kids firearm/hunting safety. Take friends that have children with you on your next photo journey- seeing is believing. When they have a one-on-one encounter with an elk, fox, owl, sunrise or sunset, you will have given them a gift that they’ll not soon forget, this is a self-evident truth and Victoria has no secrets!

    Dwight Roberts | February 3rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  22. Dan, this is an excellent point, Thank you for bringing it to the forefront.

    As a hunter and fisherman and birder/wildlife watcher I do not believe the trend in hunter/fisher-people numbers will be reversed. Our wildlife agencies are becoming more politicized, our populace more urbanized and therefore disconnected from the natural world and our way of life is increasing less stable financially.

    That said, I like the idea of the “conservation groups” contributing to the actual conservation of habitats. If they promote conservation in theory why not in practice? And many of them do – Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and many many other organizations contribute money to fund habitat enhancement projects and other activities. And yet to my knowledge they do not contribute to wildlife management as a discipline.

    Robert Magill | February 3rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  23. The Native Americans had a unique approach to conservation and hunting. They hunted prey in order to live, but they also paid homage to the spirit of the animals they hunted, showing respect for the animals that provided their food. Essentially, they recognized the link between themselves and other species, all being part of one existence. It was part of their religious experience, and recognized their place in the universe.

    There is no reason modern hunters can’t play a role in conservation.

    Timothy Vaughan | February 3rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  24. Charge all property owners a portion of their property taxes, scaled upward based on their degree of “development.”

    Dana Dolsen | February 3rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  25. This is a very serious and disconcerting issue, one which the vast majority of Americans do not understand.

    Linda MacDonald | February 3rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  26. Go to a buffalo jump, look at the mountains of bones, and see if you can continue to believe that mythology about the Indians. They were people, like everyone else, who used whatever they could to survive. The idea that they had a special connection to wildlife and a spiritual appreciation of their prey has been invented and foisted on them.

    I taught kids of all ages in national parks for generations, taught respect for wildlife and a reverence for wild places, but avoided myths and relied on biology.

    Kathy Dimont | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  27. Yes, Kathy, perhaps what I have read about the Native Americans is incorrect, although I have some reasons to believe that my understanding of their beliefs is not totally without substance. The buffalo jumps that I have seen did not indicate that the resource was wasted, but that it utilized efficiently.

    In any case, my understanding is that they did utilize the buffalo that they killed more fully and efficiently that the buffalo hunters who shot buffalo by the thousands for nothing more than their tongues and their hides leaving the rest of the carcass to rot. Perhaps that is not the case, but no one has ever explained it differently to me than that.

    In any case, we all agree that we are not for the extermination of any species in the wild. Though we may not all agree on how to achieve that goal.

    Timothy Vaughan | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  28. And thank you, Kathy, for teaching respect for wildlife and a reverence for wild places to young people. That is very appreciated.

    Timothy Vaughan | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  29. This is not the only problem that we face today. Funding is drying up for most activities that occur outside (the federal government is looking at not funding the Safe Routes to School or bike paths anymore that came through transportation dollars). It is society’s fault of being scared into having to be indoors that we now have a big issue of getting folks outdoors.

    About seven years ago, I was conducting a two week school break program for inner city kids and their comments to me was “when are we going to play basketball” and “when can we use the computer lab”. I had to tell them that they weren’t going to have much time to do those activities. I took them hiking at different parks every day. The first two days they complained. By the third day they were excited and wanted to know where we were going. Every single park we went to they saw lots of wildlife.. deer, hawks, snakes, etc. We even took them to a private nature preserve where they did wild animal rescue. The staff there took them on a small hike where the kids got to see frog eggs, turtles, deer, woodpeckers and the animals that were being healed (bobcat, fox, owls, etc.). The kids had so much fun that they didn’t want to leave. When we returned to the center, they didn’t really run to the basketball court or the computer lab, they were too busy telling the other staff all of the stuff they had seen and done.

    Maybe if we can do more activities that involve outside activities for kids, we can gain more support of all kinds of outdoor funds (like Wildlife Conservation, National Parks, etc.).

    Bobbi Beyer | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  30. Timothy, there are lots of books about Indians that give a picture more in line with the reality of their lives. I worked with the Navajo who loved to laugh about the silly beliefs that the white people held about them. To believe, as many do, that they were somehow basically different than the white Europeans (better/worse) is just prejudice with a prettier flavor. If you’re interested in a fairly realistic picture, try “Empire of the Summer Moon.” And to learn more about the buffalo jumps: I’ve been there, and listened as they explained that the Indians only took what they could use . . . and I looked at the mountain of bones behind glass & thought about the time before refrigeration, of the hundreds or thousands of animals that were run off the cliff each time . . . we all need our myths, but this one does no good for anyone.

    Kathy Dimont | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  31. I think before agencies can seek to obtain new funding they have to address what obstacles will be the resistance to achieving support for this change – and what are THEY willing to change to achieve this goal.

    I also feel the point is still being missed that non-sporting wildlife stakeholders DO financially contribute considerably to conservation more than is being recognized and realized in return services to them via non-sporting programs. Just because so many of these stakeholders don’t even know they are contributing is not an excuse to keep pretending that their millions each year aren’t there – and in the case of weapon tax, is increasing.

    This is a public that has been allowed to grow apathetic for decades while agencies advanced an arbitrary agenda. We still have this stubborn mentality in many wildlife leaders. By large, whatever their reasons (which need vetting) they remain too reluctant to take a step sideways and allow any input that doesn’t 100% support and seek to engage more hunting revenue.

    The public apathy appears to subside as animal welfare awareness grows. Leaders today know no other way other than stagnant and vehement resistance to this new public interest in wildlife. In a nutshell, I’m not convinced they want non-sporting stakeholder money because of some strings that will come with it.

    Katherine McGill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  32. Katherine – I wish I could provide a comprehensive counter to your point. And yet as a former state agency employee I can not. One of the issues I see is exactly what you pointed out. The state wildlife agencies have always been able to depend on the hunting/fishing public to provide income to the agency and are having a difficult time adjusting to the new reality that this source is no longer as dependable as it was.

    In addition to this angle, I believe one of the issues is that the agencies need to make hunting and fishing more accessible to the public. A problem here is that much of our wildlife management is being determined by non-biologists. A quick look at the debate over bear hunting in NJ or the elimination of spring bear hunts or the use of leg hold traps for fur-bearers in CO provides ample evidence of this anti-hunting sentiment. Public sentiment and not biology has either eliminated these opportunities or is striving to eliminate them, despite what the proponents are willing to acknowledge. Who wants to purchase a fishing or hunting license when your opportunities are so limited? It certainly does not support taking a child out to learn how to hunt and fish if your options or access are limited.

    I agree that the agencies need to open up their view point and also increase opportunity but the public needs to let the biologists do their job. If there is disagreement in the results of research due to the quality of the science that is one thing but to go through the political process because of a philosophical disagreement benefits none.

    This is a huge topic which the state agencies take seriously and have spent much time on. I encourage everyone in the mean time to purchase fishing or hunting licenses even if you have no desire to pursue either activity. The purchase alone can cover the expense of a search and rescue operation which costs much more than the $30.00 or whatever the price may be in any given state while at the same time helping to conserve wildlife and their habitats.

    Robert Magill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  33. Robert ~ never thought of it that way…just because I buy a license doesn’t mean I have to fire up my gun. My last hunting license was in 1992 for small game…that’s all would fit in my pot…that’s all I shot…but then I fell off a roof that year and broke my neck and never made it out. I’m fine now…was in a halo for two months, four brass screws going 1/4 ” into my skull in four places and had to spend 90% of my time laying at a 60 degree angle. I healed up pretty good considering…but being laid up like that gave me a lot of time to think and realize how lucky I was to be alive…and that raised my ecological consciousness as a result of my intense appreciation to the universe for not leaving me a quadraplegic!! In other words, I knew I owed back!!

    Anyway, I digress…but I know exactly where that 1992 plastic tag holder is and I think just for laughs and ha ha’s…I”m going to go down to the local outdoor shop and renew that license…and do my part to support wildlife and their habitats! Thanks Robert!!

    Eileen M. Antolino | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  34. Thank You and glad you are back and healthy. Enjoy your renewed past time

    Robert Magill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  35. Robert, your point is taken however I don’t view hunting and fishing not accessible enough. Being a wildlife coexistence program coordinator I can tell you how hard it is to gain access to schools, yet the wildlife officers are regularly in there promoting hunting & fishing. The agencies block us as well, no doubt fearing we might instill compassion (our principle message is “enjoy, don’t destroy”)

    In fact, I have a real problem with how hard agencies are pushing their agenda because it is causing safety, ethics and standards to be pushed back as priorities – and again, they need to think outside this box and forge forward. Just read this morning that WV is waiving hunting safety education courses for youth; “just get kids out there with anyone 18 or older and get them hooked, we’ll deal with safety later”. I feel this is WRONG.

    I’m certain I speak with thousands of people who will not support agencies farther than we do now until we at least see genuine reform of some archaic regulations and attitudes. You are asking a large majority to put aside their principles thus enabling this stubborn Institution to remain business-as-usual when even they admit it’s not going to work. When is enabling a bad situation ever helpful for anyone?

    Katherine McGill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  36. Katherine – I believe your comment about waiving hunter safety is somewhat misrepresented. What the agencies have done, WV as you mentioned and OH from my own experience is this: They allow a youth under 18 to participate in a hunt without taking hunter safety as a means of introducing them to the sport of hunting. This is done ONLY under the guidance of a licensed hunter who can demonstrate that they have successfully passed a hunter safety course, including lessons on ethics. Yes the effort is to promote hunting but it is not a “deal with safety later” mindset as you indicate.

    We must also remember that many of the conservation dollars that go into groups suggest as Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited and the many state level conservation groups such as the South Carolina Waterfowl Association come from the wallets of hunters and yet these dollars benefit all of us in tangible and intangible ways.

    Additionally we need to remember that hunting advocacy groups and more “passive” conservation minded groups have a strong bond – they ALL want to conserve our natural habitats, wildlife and fisheries for our current and future enjoyment. That is where the effort needs to be focused, not on how an individual chooses to enjoy those resources.

    Robert Magill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  37. When is a dollar saved not a dollar earned? Never, unless it’s ignored I guess.

    I have mentioned wildlife rehabilitation. This is an industry with roughly 100 individuals/centers in each state. These people are strictly volunteers and are a liaison between the agencies and the public. Rehabilitation receives NO financial assistance from the states (WA state does have a tiny grant program).

    Individuals in this industry, even a small facility I know run by a husband and wife, some years spend over $20,000. a year on the expenses incurred to provide this service for the state. It’s life consuming, expensive work performed by selfless, tireless volunteers.

    Where is the acknowledgement of this passive income recorded as well of non-sporting stakeholder contribution? I wish the rehab industry would go on strike for a month, it would really open an agency’s eyes!

    Katherine McGill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  38. Yes, Robert, the “effort” must get focused on how “some” choose to enjoy mutual resources. This is how and where changes are occurring and really, really need to be addressed. Like many you bet I am very focused on those who bait wildlife, who use steel traps, who suffer zero consequences for lying to the public about “nuisance” wildlife, who use live animals to blood their pups, who FAR too many who shoot first then say “oh, I thought it was a deer” and don’t even get a slap on their wrist or license…

    The sportsmen you tout as so financially supportive – ALL sportsmen, all hunting, fishing etc – is all about a profit made entirely on a resource that they do not own exclusively. If the sportsmen are so entitled to the claims of funding conservation then the public is to be applauded for selling that resource, every single animal hunted, trapped & fished, and subsequentlly giving all the money back to the agencies. True?

    It is still the Public Trust Doctrine, not the Sportsmen’s Trust Doctrine, right ;) ?

    Katherine McGill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  39. I think what we are now getting into is law enforcement or the lack of meaningful penalties for slobs. I will never disagree that the slobs give true hunters and fisher-people a bad name. All I can say on that end is that those people are NOT true hunters and fisherman. The TRUE members of these user groups have full respect for their quarry and go about their pursuit of that quarry with the goal of the quick one shot kill or in the case of fishing either a quick release or a quick stream/lake side processing to maximize the flavor of their catch. It is still the Public Trust Doctrine and one that was written with hunting and fishing in mind. I am not trying to change your mind on hunting, My goal is to demonstrate that hunters do contribute to conservation and that if we want to be successful with our conservation efforts we need to get away from debating philosophy and get back to working on habitat and wildlife conservation.

    Robert Magill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  40. No, Robert! I’m speaking to activities that you know full well are 100% legal and recurring (Baiting is legal in some states). I didn’t mention poaching or sloppy killers or whack jobs that video tape dying animals and find it amusing.

    You, and Leaders today in WM must get it in your heads that there is a lot more here that is giving hunting a bad name. They, and the sportsmen that claim they don’t condone some of this either, where are they in cleaning this up and employing 21st Century policies?

    Canned hunting. Another one. Are they slobs, Robert?

    Trapping? Dogs tearing live animals to shreds? Bow hunting – one quick-clean kill shot? Not hardly and not even close to most of the time is this remotely “ethical” by your own code of ethics. Are they all “slobs”, Robert?

    The PTD was created to protect ALL natural resources from privatization and exploitation, not for sportsmen to create a business from one resource and run it into the ground because they are too stubborn to get with this century and respect all stakeholders.

    You don’t need to change MY mind about hunting, Robert. I wouldn’t waste my time fighting to end hunting. You know full well I’m speaking truthful reality here about the overwhelming lack of ethics … and I have heard this rhetoric for so long I think you guys actually have a serious denial wire-malfunctioning issue. Geez, let’s get off the Kool-aid, ok?!

    The outright horror and cruelty of these LEGAL activities is not deniable, not acceptable and thanks to social media is quickly becoming public knowledge. This isn’t going to stop, so why does the WM Institution think they’ll just ignore it and keep expecting that more funding from the public will be approved, no changes are their part needed at all?

    Katherine McGill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  41. Prohibit development in wetlands and other natural areas altogether. The animals will not be killed anymore and there will be no need for so much wildlife funding.

    Natalie Helferty | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  42. When animals no longer have natural predators to keep their populations down their numbers exceed the food source and they all suffer. There are many such examples of herds of elk and deer in large enclosures that over populate the space available to them. In essence the lands that fall under the Bureau of Land Management are just larger enclosed parks. Funds from hunting and fishing licenses are what bought up the habitats, preserved and managed them. ‘Managed’ is key word here as management required funding. So inhibition of development is not enough ~ management is required and management requires funding.
    I use to live on an island just during the time it was starting to attract people from North America who had different ideas about dogs and cats. Having visited an island where the indigenous critters had long since been replaced by a population of cats that no longer had enough food to support their populace they fought all night, I knew the same thing could happen on this larger and newly discovered Caribbean Island. I had no idea just how quickly the cats could destroy the basilisk lizard population! Even though this humorously entertaining lizard called a Monkey Lala had a drink named it, it was not saved. There are still a few in the remaining remote areas but in less than 2 years they were gone from one popular bay area and 3 from a less popular one.

    On Great Camino one no longer sleeps with windows open to the breezes due to the cat fights; people visiting Roatan no longer have an opportunity to see the funny Monkey Lala running from tree to tree on its hind legs eating mosquitoes and sand flies as it goes; so not killing is not the answer to a healthy diverse wild population.

    Linda MacDonald | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  43. And besides, all of this development for profit-taking is illegal under the laws in any country. The laws uphold the interests of the ‘commons’, which is the maintainance of the land, air, water, plants, and wildlife. The government (Departments) are to manage the ‘commons’, i.e. what is commonly held by people, the environment. If there are any impacts on the commons, the politicians are elected to resolve the issues when there is profiting off the commons that is destructive to the environment. That is the system we ought to be upholding.

    Natalie Helferty | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  44. I’m grappling with this issue myself. Hunting license fees were a stable form of funding for so long because it was a relatively small fee (ex: $15 stamp for waterfowl) compared to the cost of hunting equipment, bullets, etc. My best idea is to have stamps for other activities involving wildlife such as camping. We could also have a stamp necessary to enter areas of popular parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite that are popular points to view wildlife (and thus possibly reducing congestion in those areas). The biggest downside I see with charging extra to do activities such as camping and wildlife viewing is that such activities are for the most part light in their footprint compared to directly killing wildlife.

    I’m looking forward to hearing other people’s ideas.

    Madeline Burchard | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  45. Also, ownership of land, as the ‘commons’, is illegal as we are to be stewards of the land. That is the law of the land.

    Natalie Helferty | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  46. Re Linda’s comment… You do realize that you are advocating killing cats, don’t you, people’s pets? I have another solution so cats, don’t have to be killed. Cats are European wildcats… send them back to the wilds of Europe where they originally came from. As people brought them to the islands, they ought to be responsible for returning them back to Europe. And if they don’t, the government ought to. And I am a herpetologist by the way, so am empathetic to the plight of lizards, but grew up with cats as pets. Cats follow people naturally in a mutually beneficial arrangement, which is how we of European ancestry ended up bringing cats as pets with us when we moved to islands, where other people native to the islands live. Taking responsibility for our ancestors pets, including cats and dogs, native to our homeland of Europe is really the ultimate solution to a long-standing problem of house guests that overstay their welcome and end up having a negative impact on the native populations.

    Natalie Helferty | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  47. Re Geri’s comment about charging developers more for building on greenlands…well, we are being way too nice…we ought to just be saying the word “No!” more often and more emphatically.

    Natalie Helferty | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  48. Re the tax issue…some taxes are illegal under the law. Legally, a local group of people who get together in a community, eg. a town or a smaller group or a larger group, to form a corporation, eg. a town that is incorporated, can pool their resources to provide a common good, like a school. This corporation was intended as a format to undertake a project, not a permanent situation unless there was an on-going need. If people do not want to pay a tax, which is an agreement to fund a project by a particular group of people, then they do not have to pay any tax to buy into the project. Taxes are optional. And when people are forced to pay taxes without agreeing to the project, they get rather upset. That is why in the United States when doing tax forms they ask you where you would like your taxes spent. That way you are deciding to opt in or not. Although, if you wanted to, you could live off the land, the commons, and not pay any taxes legally as well.

    Natalie Helferty | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  49. Yes Natalie, I am fully away of what I am advocating ~ wildlife management as these dogs and cats are not people’s pets. And even some that say they are take very little, if any, and unsustained responsibility for them. One of the dive instructors neutered every feral cal she would come in contact with ~ had her staff doing it during down times and it made no impact. The feral dogs were the really sad case as they did not prey on bats, iguana, lizards, birds and such. They just hung out in large numbers at the dump looking miserable in their state of hunger, injuries, and infestations.

    Linda MacDonald | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  50. You can see similar effects on the deer populations in enclosures ~ they are scrawny, infected and growing smaller and inbreed year after year.

    Linda MacDonald | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  51. How to fund wildlife conservation as revenue from hunting declines is a great question?

    Eco-tourism has proven successful in many areas of the world. Charging for entrance into parks has been another source.

    The biggest necessity and source of funding in the future is changing the mindset in Congress to “Everyone benefits from conservation, environmental and ecological issues…so everyone must pay”! In the past hunting and fishing licenses have been a major revenue source to support wildlife conservation, but all things change. Congresses attitudes must change too.

    Richard Crist | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  52. I have to agree with Dwight. Also, one would think State and Federal taxes would be a large part of the funding. If we would stop wasting tax dollars on frivolous nonsense, we would have more to support the state parks and lands.

    Steve Cook | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  53. On the subject of conservation funding from bird-watchers:

    I haven’t read in-depth yet, but I detect a tone much like I’ve been speaking here from them as well “Where is OUR voice?”
    “…And why is it that we birders are being urged to purchase hunting licenses and duck stamps? Does the Fish and Wildlife Service have a method of determining who is a duck hunter and who is a birder among stamp purchasers, or is what matter the total number of stamps sold being credited to hunting? Yes, hunters and anglers contribute to conservation through license sales and excise taxes. But if the traditional wildlife recreation community TRULY WANTED CHANGE (my emphasis added), the Pittman-Roberston Act (first passed in 1937) would have been amended and expanded years ago to include wildlife watching, feeding, and photography equipment and supplies. As it stands today, hunters and anglers have government agencies in a stranglehold, and they are perfectly happy with the status quo (consider that underlined for emphasis as well). Just attend one of the professional meetings such as the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference; no doubt, sustaining North America’s hunting heritage will be a track on the agenda, but birding will not. Meanwhile, we birders—who have the numbers— stand outside with our tin cups begging for a scrap from the table where we are not invited to sit.”

    I rest my case! (for now ;)

    Katherine McGill | February 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  54. How does wildlife photography, backpacking, canoeing, or camping have a negative impact upon biodiversity? If they do then everything does. The people who do these activities want to protect natural areas and they spend a lot of money enjoying these activities. The local communities that benefit economically from these activities have incentive to protect natural areas to protect their trades.

    Do you think the only reason that land is devoted to wildlife habitat is for hunting? Wrong, unless you are talking about private hunting parks. National and state parks were not set up for just hunting. They were set up to protect the land and everything on it from disappearing due to mans insatiable appetite. Hunting benefits from these protected areas.

    National parks and nature preserves are not sufficient enough to protect wildlife. There are many things necessary to protect wildlife. Regulated hunting is one of them. It is an economic tool to generate revenue to fund wildlife conservation and a management tool to help manage unbalanced wildlife populations.

    Who should we protect wildlife from? Space aliens? Asteroids? Man is the only thing on this planet that over dominates, eliminates natural lands and hunts wildlife to extinction. Wolves don’t hunt their prey to extinction. Man does and then he moves on to the next. If it wasn’t for “those crazy protectionist people” think of how many animals would be now extinct (bison, wolves, black footed ferrets, mountain lions, whales, etc, etc, etc) and how many canyons would have have been lost to dams and clear-cut forests and coastlines developed and etc, etc, etc. Man is not separate from the natural world, but that does not forgive us for our negative impacts. We need to minimize our impact.

    If your point, about golf and basketball, is that to protect the environment we need to live simpler lifestyles and do activities that with less resource, I would agree with you.

    If the only thing protecting wildlife, natural areas, and the worlds biodiversity is the revenue generated from hunting then all is lost. The only reason to protect wildlife and natural areas can’t be just economic. Clean air and water & a green and blue planet is everyone’s business. So again… The biggest necessity and source of funding in the future is changing the mindset in Congress to “Everyone benefits from conservation, environmental and ecological issues…so everyone must pay”!

    Richard Crist | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  55. Thanks for the historical information.

    Caleb Mitchell | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  56. Check to see if your State has an option to contribute a nominal percent of your income tax to contribute to wildlife management programs. Many states do and many people don’t know about it.

    Anthony Zemba | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  57. I would tend to agree with Dwight. Here in Washington state our fish and wildlife dept WAS totally separate and did not have a problem with funding. Some years ago our Senators thought it would be better if that money went into the general fund and then to the wildlife depts, after that there was always trouble getting enough funds. it was just another way of diverting funds. after that the ability to manage went downhill because of no funds, so then followed a decline in hunting license purchases. it s a cycle that needs to be broken. Unfortunately if you enjoy the outdoors then you need to support it. Hunters and fisherman used to carry the burden, but now all need to step up to keep our public areas open. I don’t like the fact that i need to buy more access passes, but if it will keep my area open i will do my part. at the very least we should be pressuring or legislators to not take away funds that should go to the fish and wildlife depts from license and access pass purchases.

    Raymond Hagerty | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  58. Before WM leaders can ask “from whom and how” they will obtain additional funding I feel they should be exploring the reasons they might not succeed at those attempts. Otherwise these leaders are going to delay solutions across the board and for too long.

    If something isn’t broke, we shouldn’t fix it. If it is…. let’s fix it. Where, within this industry, are the people genuinely interested and realistic enough to do that?

    Such a serious problem the Institution claims, this fear of losing funding, of needing to engage more stakeholders…

    Katherine McGill | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  59. I do not, and have not, ever lived in the US, so the Pittman-Robertson Act is something I’ve never heard of, but I think this is an important question that can’t be answered with something as simple as adding a tax to camera purchases (although maybe that’s a contributing point to solution).

    Without billing people for a license of some sort, how do you get annual monetary input into an activity? And if they aren’t getting anything other than use of public land (i.e. land they themselves are partial owners of) how do you charge them for anything?

    The reason, in my opinion, that birders and recreational users are encouraged to purchase licenses is because it’s the easiest direct donation they can make to wildlife research and studies–and subsequently management.

    I am very curious about, as hunting numbers decline, and the annual pump of funds (from the licenses) diminishes, what a valid means of replenishing that coffer looks like. I don’t think charging portrait photographers a “wildlife fee” when they buy camera equipment makes any more sense than a birder purchasing a hunting license they don’t plan to hunt with, but it certainly would bring a bit of money.

    A lot of recreational users would benefit greatly from taking the hunting courses required before you’re able to purchase a license as they teach you valuable information about species ecology and identification that are likely beneficial for any person who enjoys the outdoors. Although both of these ideas would stock the aforementioned coffers, they’re one-time purchases. How do you sustain the constant influx of funds?

    I know that there are trust funds and organizations that fund research that you are welcome to directly contribute to in order to support sound science for wildlife management, and perhaps by donation is the only alternative. But how well regulated those organizations are may later become a matter of debate.

    I would argue that as a benefit to hunting, there are enforceable rules and regulations (how aggressively enforced, and how adequately ruled are matters of a different debate), whereas, I don’t know how you would fine an unlicensed birder…I can’t imagine it would become illegal to carry binoculars in public…so donations are likely the only means of garnering monetary support from rec users and a donation may take the shape of purchasing a hunting license they just don’t plan to use.

    Until the public opinion changes (likely through wildlife managers efforts in the PR and public education sectors), and they’re willing to donate (or be charged) for recreational activities outdoors, charging hunters to hunt is the most reliable and continued means of funding. I would love to see more ideas, hit this posting board, as I am currently at a loss other than by, in BC, Canada, donating to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund (or similar fund) directly (HCTF is a fund that a portion of the hunting/fishing license sales go to). These funds contribute heavily to wildlife research within the province.

    Great question with a very relevant debate potential. Thanks Candice.

    Richard Borthwick | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  60. Something is odd about the whole thing (like CA State Parks shutting down). One has to kill animals with guns (invented to kill humans) to “save” them. I don’t kill anything (I’m not a Buddhist) except for Hordeum leporinum and Bromus diandrous, and non-native thistles.

    I used to “collect” duck hunting stamps for my collection. They were beautiful. Now wildlife conservation depends on fees collected by killers to fund programs. And highly paid politicians, instead of cutting their salary or budgets, make common people pay to fund “conservation.” There’s a dugh dugh dugh involved here. I used to bust hunters for killing untagged deer they claimed were needed for “camp food.”

    They’d ride into Yosemite N.P. from the East Side, and kill deer for “camp food.” Imagine that? Very good citizens practicing wildlife management in National Parks.

    Jim Dunne | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  61. Perhaps the alternative, but again would it ever be enforceable, and would the funds end up in conservation [preferable NGO] coffers, would be to license access of public land?

    Edmund Stammers | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  62. Unfortunately it seems that there are only a few of us who are prepared to put our heads above the parapet and get sniped at.

    I do understand that there are individuals who fear that their “reputations” will be damaged if they challenge the status quo, and that is a sad situation. I have no reputation as such to protect, and am equally happy to accept, and hopefully learn from, the criticism of my peers.

    The situation is caused by the simple fact that the majority of “leaders” are funded directly, or otherwise, by Government money and don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.

    Edmund Stammers | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  63. Was I sniping? lol, hope not.

    That’s sad, isn’t it? That one could not engage in challenging the status quo, to seek solutions and bring forth insights for fear of biting the hand that feeds them when that same hand claims it doesn’t know how it’s going to afford to pay them one day?

    I’m certainly curious as to how the system works in other countries but without having an understanding of the Pittman-Robertson and how we got here in the US, I’m not sure solutions can be expanded on. I believe the answers are in that (now very antiquated) foundation.

    Do you have a similar scenario in Ireland, and Canada? Are the non-hunting stakeholders excluded from the table and frustrated with the status quo? IS your management also foolishly convinced they can’t continue their hobbies if they remotely consider mutual compromises?

    I don’t know what the birders and some other groups would say or ask for if they were given a seat at this table, but I have a good handle on what the issues are for those many might stereotype as “AR radicals”. We aren’t all like that. We simply want the highly unethical activities that are innately cruel, highly unethical and utterly unnecessary to cease. But I’m repeating myself now…

    Katherine McGill | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  64. Another thought… as hunting declines we can all see the level of desperation increasing. Hours and years have been spent deliberating “how can we grow hunting”.

    At what point, if not already, will we have crossed the line where precious money is being wasted on this desperation? Is there even any one who would blow that whistle, say “ok, enough, we’ve beat this one to a pulp… time of death, 12:45pm” ?

    That’s indeed a problem when there are no status quo police to stop the tragedies. One need only look at our government today for proof of that.

    Katherine McGill | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  65. Let’s not forget that a significant chunk of the revenue requirements are for law enforcement – checking for compliance with size / age / bag limit / in-season / gender requirements, etc. Wildlife viewers need no such supervision.

    The polar bears I take guests to see and photograph in Alaska are perfectly happy to continue leading their largely unsupervised lives.

    Charlie MacPherson | February 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  66. This made me smile. How do we fund conservation if we aren’t killing wildlife? :) I’m sure we can figure something out. Thanks for posing the interesting question.

    Lori Cole | February 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  67. Is this particularly in the USA that hunters do fund wildlife conservation? I would not think it is generally so in other countries (but may be wrong in this).

    Esther Wullschleger | February 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  68. Katherine,

    What are the activities that you are considering “highly unethical and innately cruel?” Are these the acts of hunting with rifles or bows, trapping, baiting, poaching? Can you give me a point of reference so that I may better understand your view point.

    Joseph Fielding | February 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  69. Hi Joseph, I only have a few moments to throw a few examples out…

    Fair Chase ethical violations:
    Captive Hunting
    Using live trapped/injured animals as live bait to train dogs
    Using dogs like primitive neandrathals to chase wildlife down, or up a tree

    Quick (clean) Kill ethical violations:
    Trapping (with bait crosses over to Fair-Chase violation also)
    yes, Bow Hunting
    Barbaric events allowed such as Snapperfest in Indiana…

    Poaching is already illegal in all 50 states.
    De-regulating of “nuisance” wildlife trappers is moving quickly up the list of highly unacceptable decisions on behalf of wildlife management.

    Katherine McGill | February 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  70. Katherine,

    I’m afraid that I am going to “clash” with you again on two issues here.

    Firstly on baiting. I work in an area where fox control is a necessary part of the agricultural scene – a lot of lambs are lost to foxes. In rural Ireland, a lost lamb is a financial worry to small farmers. I use baiting to bring foxes to an area where they can be safely removed from the equation – culled – or whatever else you want to all it.

    Secondly, for effective deer management, it should be a legal requirement, in whichever Country you care to discuss, to have a properly trained deer dog available wherever a cull takes place. The best placed shot may leave a deer clinically dead, but its natural reactions an take it a long way – the dog will find the carcase which would otherwise go to waste; or, scenario number 2, the best shot in the world will always end up in a scenario where a beast is wounded; a properly trained dog will then follow a blood trail to locate the animal in the fastest possible time to ensure it is put down quickly and humanely.

    Edmund Stammers | February 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  71. “Everyone benefits. Everyone pays.”

    Richard Crist | February 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  72. Edmund – using a dog to track down a hit animal and using dogs to chase, tree and fight an animal before killing it are two different matters. I refer to the latter, and have no problem with your point.

    Culling of deer is too often a band-aid used to correct unsound management that caused it to be needed. In the case of fox, we make great efforts to teach the public to decrease food supply to deter nuisance wildlife conflicts. Protecting sheep may not be as simple as better management of your trashcans, but not enough effort is made to remedy conflict when killing is easier, and more fun.

    Trappers prefer traps over humane options, they want barbaric leg holds back in areas where they were finally banned. Why? In the words of one just last Saturday “let’s face it, we like the carnage. I know I do!”. That mentality isn’t acceptable today yet it isn’t curbed by those in charge. Trappers pay, those opposed…don’t? Not true. They do too, more than trappers I would wager. They just don’t get equal acknowledgement for their contribution and therefore are a majority ignored.

    Over $400 million annually via non-sport weapon sales should be granted more voice than it has been given. Again, as well, isn’t every tag sold, every animal killed an in-part contribution from non-consumptive shareholders?? Mutual owners, mutual contributors – and have been ever more so for decades now as weapons became less than the half sold for hunters.

    Katherine McGill | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  73. Katherine,

    I think that we are going to have to look at the difference in our situations here.

    I live, and work, in Western Europe. Virtually every acre is influenced by human living, in one form or another.

    As such, deer management is vitally important, not just from the agricultural and forestry point of view, but also because of the amount of human suffering caused by the number of serious injuries caused by road traffic accidents. The deer population is almost getting out of control due to poor management. I have, on more occasions than I ever care to remember, been called out to safely cull a deer, half embedded in a vehicle, before the emergency services can cut the occupant out and hospitalize them. Proper management would reduce this situation by, probably, 75%

    Having had my bit of a rant, the liking of a “bit of carnage” is never acceptable to any civilized person, it is no different to cock fighting or badger baiting – barbaric.

    Trapping, where legally utilized, as part of a management program, is, however, a humane and acceptable tool in some circumstances.

    Edmund Stammers | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  74. Edmund, you’re more correct that you may realize. Poor deer management is an understatement. Is culling needed sometimes? Maybe, but more likely not in too many cases if the need hadn’t first occurred for that profit over sustainability arbitrary goal.
    Essentially, elementary speaking, states here with the most hunting (tags sold last year) qualify for more millions of the gun tax pie ($749 million in 2010, Texas routinely gets the max allowed of $9 million a year). The more hunting lands the state has and the more hunters it can draw (“look at our states harvest rates by hunters last year! Easiest hunting you can find, come one, come all!”) … You see where this is going to go? And so the “we need hunting to keep Bambi from starving” Kool-aid gets a real bitter taste.

    No one is going to tell me, or any one with a brain, that managing deer to increase their populations (suspiciously not a problem in less hunting-popular states) isn’t a priority to meet this goal – and that easy hunting isn’t a desire of todays hunters by majority. I’ve sat thru Commission meetings bragging about their pricey software to ensure high harvestable populations in easily huntable locations.

    As this knowledge is expanded among the public it’s infuriating that they must suffer the consequences with deadly auto collisions, high insurance rates, property damage, their taxes used to cull these surplus deer, and the ugliness of culling. It IS a financial, life threatening and emotional hardship on them. The agency entrusted to manage this fails us when they operate this way, but who pays for the culling later?

    This should not – and would not – be an ugly cost of doing business if, A) the P-R system wasn’t archaic, B) the management of this archaic system would accept that hunting is declining and figure out a new way to get their millions from P-R pot. Instead they pour money into recruiting new hunters, even our 10 year old boys with a bow and arrow and no hunting license. I’m listening to the CO agency meeting as we speak…. they prove this point every time they speak: One step forward, one step back. Stuck in their staus quo mud.

    Katherine McGill | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  75. Edmund, trapping: I don’t know how many animals you have known personally, but trust me I have known – and healed – countless. There is nothing humane about trapping. That, I’m sorry Edmund, is not debatable. Pain and terror is a hard fact and is what is endured by sentient beings that are trapped; it is unacceptable. I could change your mind on this in 5 seconds if allowed the opportunity, but you wouldn’t like it and would scream “uncle” even faster ;)

    Quick clean kill. Trapping has not accomplished this, a few successful results does not equal humane when millions each year suffer for days. If given a choice of pain or terror, humans would choose terror; Animals would be forced to choose pain. They want to live, just like we do, and even though they feel pain as we do, to ever subject them to even moments of feeling vulnerable to predators is terrorizing, beyond cruel. We all know this but we have detached ourselves from our own intelligence. Humans are cursed with this ability.

    Katherine McGill | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  76. Candy, it is up to all of us to fund these conservation initiatives. Nonprofit groups and state and federal agencies must do more to educate the general public about the connection between ecological health and human health. However, education is poorly funded for these groups. Nationwide many people believe that all nature lovers are environmental terrorists. The question may well be, how can we change that perception?

    Hunters and fishers continue to pay a large portion of funding for conservation in my home state of Oklahoma, where hunting is and will always be an important sport and beloved activity. We are blessed to have the varied ecosystems and plentiful terrain and lakes to sustain hunting/fishing. Not every state has such abundant resources.

    Mary Coley | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  77. Katherine,

    I do not know, nor do I really, in all honesty, want to know what trapping system you have been involved in, if animals are suffering for days. There is a major problem with your system somewhere.

    Through preference I use live catch traps [cage traps] as these allow non-target animals to be released unharmed. On the odd occasions where I do need to use break-back traps, and this is generally for rats and squirrels, they are used in tunnels which will not allow larger animals [and especially birds] to be caught.

    Traps are, as legally required, checked at least once in every 24 hour period – although I prefer twice in every period of daylight as a minimum.

    Edmund Stammers | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  78. I think you should come over here and be employed. Please?
    We have trappers in some states here pushing for 7 day trap check rules.
    Live box traps have a place but in last decade we have seen horrible damage done by them on the rise, resulting in euthanasia and amputations. This is also a result of them being available to every Joe Homeowner that wants to relocate a pesky critter. We are highly opposed to 90% of the relocation done, now often by some nuisance trappers who are, blessedly, trying to be more humane today. We can do better, and agencies that cared to see better done would be appreciated.

    To get back on topic, there is a source of income here that is lost. Agencies could and should be charging a fee upon “nuisance trappers”. A growing business venture here. As one myself, I would gladly pay a fee if they would also make and enforce rules that encouraged proper procedures. Pressure from the trappers has turned trappers lose to do as they like and lie to homeowners (who increasingly are seeking humane solutions).

    Katherine McGill | February 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  79. Wow, I didn’t know the figures at all. I’m surprised at the amount of money raised from permits. I’d happily pay a higher rate on a day pass.

    Travis | March 13th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  80. I have been saying this for years. Most hunters i know hunt mostly private land, but hikers,campers, boaters,and bird watchers could be doing more of their share. Pennies on the dollar add up.
    If the right person could have their voice heard, how great it would be.

    . . . Steven colbert

    Ken | May 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  81. How about asking people around the world to use more birth control, so that pressure on wildlife habitat doesn’t constantly increase? Money alone can’t solve that problem.

    Also, federal and state lands are paid for by everyone’s tax dollars. Why do hunters get so much credit just because of particular tracts they hunt on? Animals don’t only live in those zones. If land is left properly alone, wildlife doesn’t need to be “managed” by people and the cost is nil.

    Jim C. | May 19th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  82. Hunters are NOT conservationists.

    They don’t help endangered species with non huntable.

    We have true conservationist like WWF. Earthwatch etc.

    All hunters does is wasting money on crap, spreading toxic lead bullets. Disturbing wildlife etc.

    Many hicks goes in Africa and killing vulnerable even endangered species for trophy and profit.
    They waste 140 millions dollars on funding hunting NOT helping wildlife.

    I am not a member or any organizations. I’m independent.

    Trapping is sadism and indulging pleasure over the suffering of animals.
    All trappers are scum of the Earth who find inbred hicks excuses to get away with sport killing.

    If man keeps overpopulating conservation will fail and all animals will vanish and finally us will vanish.
    Earth is finite. NOT infinite.

    EthicalOne | May 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  83. Great posting!

  84. I grew up in a family of hunters, but have decided to not hunt. I ran into this article helping a family member (who does hunt) do research on the particular topic, and I think that hunters/fishers of America -need- to do a lot more to distance themselves from the negative stereotypes associated with what they do when around non-hunters. It might just be personal experience, but every hunter I’ve met, to some extent, likes the “redneck hick” image of hunting.

    By contrast, everyone I’ve met who plays video games (keep reading hunters) does everything they can to distance themselves from the basement dwelling neckbeard identity associated with what they do

    Ghost of 503 | November 17th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  85. As a fisherman when I was younger I didn’t understand why more people weren’t doing it. Unfortunately the younger generation, including myself, have technology now. So nowhere near as many people get involved in these activities anymore. It’s a shame, but that’s how it goes.

    Matt Mills | June 21st, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  86. Hunters hunt for entertainment, for pure pleasure of feeling empowerment and it gives lots of them the incentive to feel the power of domination over every living creature that roam today. Sure, they spend a great deal amount of money, but it is not for the sake of conserving wildlife – i meant how could they be so generous and so kind toward the lower class of animals? They should just admit that they like to kill, just like we have murders living at large in our so-called modern society. Hunters claim that they are spending the money to conserve national park, wildlife and species are merely a pathetic cloak.

    Alamar | September 7th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  87. Hunters fund over 75% of the wildlife management in America. Without them you lose funding and methods to protect the biosphere. They are the means by which an ecosystem is balanced, taking the necessary number of animals (as determined by wildlife biologists) to sustain healthy populations of every species. There is a limit to what any area can support, this is called its “carrying capacity” & must be maintained. That requires removal of some animals to prevent overpopulation. Understand the movie Lion King? It’s about maintaining a balance. Hunters provide & fund that balance, not treehuggers. The loss of hunters spells doom for California’s wildlife which are in serious decline thanks to the complete and utter failure of the regulating agencies to effectively manage wildlife in this state.

    Here’s 10 Reasons Why Hunting is Conservation.

    Reason No. 1 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million.

    Reason No. 2 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Thanks to conservation work spearheaded by hunters, today there are more than 32 million.

    Reason No. 3 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are over 7 million.

    Reason No. 4 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1901, few ducks remained. Thanks to hunters’ efforts to restore and conserve wetlands, today there are more than 44 million.

    Reason No. 5 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1950, only 12,000 pronghorn remained. Thanks to hunters, today there are more than 1.1 million.

    Reason No. 6 why Hunting Is Conservation: Habitat, research and wildlife law enforcement work, all paid for by hunters, help countless non-hunted species.

    Reason No. 7 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through state licenses and fees, hunters pay $796 million a year for conservation programs.*

    Reason No. 8 why Hunting Is Conservation: Through donations to groups like RMEF, hunters add $440 million a year to conservation efforts.*

    Reason No. 9 why Hunting Is Conservation: In 1937, hunters actually requested an 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows to help fund conservation. That tax, so far, raised more than $7.2 billion for wildlife conservation.*

    Reason No. 10 why Hunting Is Conservation: An 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows generates $371 million a year for conservation.*

    *financial info via America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy (January 2013) & Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation (January 2013)

    Bruce Carter | January 28th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  88. The obvious place to get funding for wildlife management is where it has always been–state general funds from general tax revenues. States have been entirely self-serving by insisting that wildlife management agencies have to be user funded from license fees and federal tax dollars. But this creates an unacceptable conflict of interest on the part of agency personnel and a bias toward consumptive users of wildlife that can no longer be tolerated. Instead of viewing licensee as some sort of privileged clients of these agencies, they should be viewed as persons whose personal desires to consume wildlife cause financial burdens on the state to protect the commons property wildlife resource that the state has a fiduciary duty to manage on behalf of ALL citizens, not just consumptive users and the few species they are interested in. Far from a fee begatfing preferential treatment, hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses are really compensation for public costs generated by private demand on public resources. It is time to demand change in the present outmoded thinking on wildlife life management and bring more democracy, fairness, and humane treatment to wildlife management in America.

    Rocky Sehnert | January 29th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  89. Sadly the Department of Natural Resources only protects the species hunters are interested in shooting. It has done little to nothing to protect predators that routinely get culled by hunting groups and the DNR to increase game animals for hunters. It’s sad as large carnivores are necessary for the maintenance of biodiversity and play an important role ecosystem function. All of our large predators face serious threats and are experiencing massive declines in their populations and geographic ranges, not just in the US but around the world. Researchers say this will have huge impacts on other species. Until the DNR does more to promoting tolerance and coexistence with large carnivores they are doing little for long term conservation, so I could care less about the decline in hunters.

    BB | March 6th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  90. Candy,
    May I ask who paid for all the wildlife to be here before the country was settled?

    Judy Tipton | September 6th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  91. Havent you seen the news….trophy hinters debunked!! i never believe a word anyway…none of the money they claimed went to “conservation” went to thd filthy pockets of africans…so now what? admit it idiot hunters….you have brain damage…the violence region of your sick brains is clearly affected ….aberration of frontal lobe….jeffrey dahmer..gacy…bono…you know,enjoying to kill..and do it in company of other sickos…a club!!! yes others…destroying our planet..take selfies with corpses an put blood on my little sons faces to celebrate the kill..sick idiots conservation my a…s…i doubt youl publish this anyway.

    irene garafolo | October 14th, 2015 | Comment Permalink

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