You may read the title and wonder what I might be getting at. In the United States on Earth Day you should thank a Hunter and this is why…. A hunter is the number 1 contributor to conservation in the COUNTRY. Everyday Sportsman or sportswoman gives 8 million to conservation.
On average over 38 billion dollars in annual retail spending 769 million through hunting licenses and fees,contributes to conservation and the economy. Hunters give 440 million through donation of nonprofit fundraisers such as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Overall hunters pay more than 1.6 billion dollars annually that goes towards conservation. Now add the 11% tax on guns, ammo and archery equipment that generates 371 million per year towards conservation (RMEF, 2018). After reading that I know some may be skeptical about the money touching the ground well here is some facts and history on why “Hunting is CONSERVATION”.
Theodore Roosevelt being the founder of national parks, refuges and much more also knew the importance of the American hunter had in maintaining the ecosystems. “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen,” the 26th president said “The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wildlife, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the largest and valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”
“After the extinction of the passenger pigeon and the near elimination of the bison and many migratory bird species in the early 1900’s, Americans realized the impacts humans could have on wildlife. To ensure that there would be animals to hunt in the future, hunters began to support programs that helped maintain species populations and protect habitats for wildlife.” (United States Fish and Wildlife Services, 2018)
Sportsmen leaders such as Thoedore Roosevelt and Aldo Leapold planted the seed of conservation in the early 1900’s. Many acts were passed such as bag limit on birds, eliminating commercial duck hunting, prohibiting market hunting in the late 1800’s and early 1900′
s but one in particular has started the ball rolling for the funds for conservation. The Pittman-Robertson act was passed in 1937, through which hunters voluntarily imposed a tax on themselves, ensuring that a portion of the sale of all firearms and ammunition would be expressly dedicated to managing the wildlife entrusted to the public.
Later on organizations such as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and many more were created to specifically work on different aspect of conservation. These groups are mostly made up of hunters but non-hunters work with them as team on projects to protect our earth.
The Money Touching the Ground
Through the Duck Stamp, hunters help protect and restore habitat for migratory waterfowl and other nongame birds and wildlife. The stamp is required along with the license for waterfowl hunting. For every dollar spent on Duck Stamps, ninety-eight cents go directly to vital habitat or acquire conservation easements within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Since 1934, almost 6 million acres of habitat have been conserved with the help of Duck Stamp funds (United States Fish and Wildlife Services, 2018).
Through the Pittman-Robertson Act (P-R act), hunters fund a range of conservation programs. Through Pittman-Robertson, sportsmen and women have contributed more than $14 billion to conservation since 1937. Around two-thirds of P-R act funds available to the states are used to buy, develop, maintain, and operate wildlife management areas. This includes approximately 4 million acres that have been purchased by states since the program began. An additional estimated 40 million acres are managed for wildlife in agreements with landowners. This total acreage benefiting wildlife exceeds the size of roughly half of the states in the United States(NRA Hunters, 2016). Some projects funded from the P-R act the creation of watering holes for wildlife to drink, the planting of tree and shrub cover for pheasants and quail and other wildlife during winter storms, and controlled burns of brush and grass to improve habitat for wild turkey and quail.
The Improvements from the Total Funds
In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Today there are more than 1 million.
In 1900, only 500,000 whitetails remained. Today there are more than 32 million.
In 1900, only 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Today there are over 7 million.
In 1901, few ducks remained after commercial duck hunting. Thanks to efforts to restore and conserve wetlands, today there are more than 44 million.
In 1950, only 12,000 pronghorn remained. Today there are more than 1.1 million.
Habitat, research and wildlife law enforcement work, is all paid for by hunters that money also helps pay for the preservation of countless non-hunted species.
Hunting helps balance wildlife populations to what the land can support, limits crop damage and curtails disease outbreaks.
Hunters help manage growing numbers of predators such as cougars, bears, coyotes and wolves. Which balances the wildlife as a whole.
Hunting has major value for highway safety. For every deer hit by a motorist, hunters take six.
Hunters are the fuel behind RMEF and its 7 million plus acres of habitat conservation. RMEF helped restore wild elk herds in seven states and provinces.
With funds from hunters scientist are able to study, understand and maintain the wildlife and their environments. (RMEF, 2013)
With conserving these populations includes conserving the environment they live in. Protection of wetlands, forest management and much more. The funds from hunters contribute to the ecosystem as a whole. So if you enjoy seeing deer running through fields, birds singing, or well managed public lands thank a hunter this Earth Day.
All my sources are included below if you would like more information.
NRA Hunters(2016). Hunters’ Contribute to U.S. Wildlife Conservation. https://www.nrahlf.org/articles/2016/9/13/hunters-contributions-to-us-wildlife-conservation/
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (2013). 25 Reasons why Hunting is Conservation.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (2018). Hunting IS Conservation – Paid for by Hunters
United States Fish and Wildlife Services (2018). Hunters are Conservationsist https://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/hunters-as-conservationists/