As Goes Hunting, So Goes Wildlife
The news media tells us about budget battles almost every day, reminding us that everything needs financing. Are you aware that includes wildlife? How does wildlife get funded? Who pays for wildlife? Where does the money come from to create, preserve and restore wildlife habitat? Where does the money come from for wildlife research? Where does the money come from for anything related to wildlife? While it's true that wildlife received no funding in North American before the white man showed up, man is not going away, and we want to keep wildlife abundant and accessible. It takes funding to make that happen.
Although many people will say they love wildlife and even contribute money when they see sad cases on TV of the suffering of wildlife, the vast majority of funding for wildlife exists because of hunters, and few people know the story. In the early part of the twentieth century, hunters saw that wildlife could not tolerate the absence of bag limits, year 'round open seasons, the pressure of urban development, and other things that were a threat to continued, abundant, and accessible wildlife. So hunters became politically active. They appealed to state legislatures to create game and fish departments, to establish seasons and bag limits, and to pass into law an 11% excise tax on firearms, ammunition and other hunting gear. This tax is unseen, built into the price of these products, and it has created a fund that is distributed to the states (based on the number of hunting licenses sold) for the management of wildlife. It is hunters who provide that money. It is not nature photographers. It is not bird watchers. It is not the wealthy through their charitable giving. It is hunters. Wildlife in North American thrives thanks to hunters.
Today, with fewer licenses being sold, and with political attacks on the Second Amendment that falsely promise a safer society, wildlife will suffer. (Although the Second Amendment is not about hunting, so many political "solutions" have unintended consequences.) That's the message and the emphasis of my newest column (read it online in the Jamestown Gazette). As Goes Hunting, So Goes Wildlife will help you understand one of the great dangers wildlife faces today.
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