Hunting and the Funding of Conservation
Photo by Emmett Lingle
What do you think when you hear the words hunting and conservation in the same sentence? Many people think that these two topics are completely separate, however, they support one another. This research will show you how hunting funds conservation. In the early 1900s, the wildlife population in North America was extremely low because of reckless harvest. The reason for this was there were know hunting regulations in the U.S.A, thus the need for conservation was born. People who wanted to continue hunting had to find a way to regulate and fund restoration projects. Hunters and Fisherman created taxes to help pay for restoration efforts. During this time the North American Conservation Model was put into effect helping to restore North America's wildlife. This paper will explore the early beginnings of the wildlife conservation movement in the U.S.A and explains how the sport of hunting has funded conservation efforts throughout the country.
Hunting and the conservation movement have a long history dating back to the early 1900s. "Hunting a sport that involves the seeking, pursuing, and killing of wild animals and birds, called game and game birds, primarily in modem times with firearms but also with bow and arrow"(The Editors ~(Encyclopedia Britannica). Also, conservation, defined by Stuart L. Pimm is, "the study of the loss of Earth's biological diversity and the ways this loss can be prevented[ ... ] Conservation thus seeks to protect life's variety at all levels of biological organization"(Pimm).During the early 19th century almost all big game species were very close to extinction. Hunters noticed they needed to limit themselves to ensure the survival of the species. During this time the North American Conservation Model was developed(Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation).
One major character in the development of the North American Conservation model was Theodore Roosevelt. The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde quotes Theodore saying, "Most big-game hunters never learn anything about the game except how to kill it; and most naturalists never observe it all"(Lunde). The National Park Servicer describes Theodore Roosevelt as the "conservationist president." He was a sportsman and conservationist. Some of his biggest achievements were creating Crater Lake National Park, Wind Cave-National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park. Roosevelt wanted to hunt the big game of North America before they disappeared. Many of his hunting trips were depicted as successful but they also depicted habitat loss and loss of species. After becoming president in 1901 Roosevelt used his authority to create the United States Forest Service. This made 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks and more. During his presidency, he protected 230 million acres of public land(National Park Service). Theodore set the stage for conservation because of his love for hunting and nature itself.
The early 1900s were the starting point for many forms of legislation that helped protect the resources of America. As stated earlier, the ecosystems all throughout the country had b
een destroyed, weakened, or severely damaged. This caused people to think about how to stop the destruction. This was a time when legislation was created to help protect and fund conservation. The Pittman Robertson Act, duck stamps, and creating the system of limiting licenses that must be purchased for a fee were all put into place over this period of time. According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation during this time the-North American Conservation Model was developed. (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) All of the acts above helped to improve conservation as a whole.
The whole idea of using hunting in a way to fund conservation comes from the North American Conservation Model. The NASM has seven rules and according to RMEF, they are all wildlife held in public trust, a prohibition on the commerce of dead wildlife, democratic rule of law hunting opportunity for all, non-frivolous use, internal resources and scientific management(Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation). Without their principles, there would be no conservation. If there isn't the opportunity for all there would be no interest in the sport. If they weren't held in public trust nobody would be able to hunt. Without the act of hunting conservation to this extent would not exist.
The Pittman Robertson Act which is a tax on guns, ammunition, and archery equipment is a major fund for conservation. The PRA was put in place in 1937 because of the fear of losing entire ecosystems throughout America. The PRA has an 11% tax on ' all firearms, ammunition, bows, quivers, broadheads, and points. There is also a 10% tax on handguns. The PRA has generated 7 billion dollars. The money is distributed to many programs all across the country(Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks). According to the U.S.F.G, the PRA has allowed states to acquire a million acres since 1937. A quarter of the funding is used each year to pay for surveys and research. Which then allows states to base their management plans off science. This science lead approach that is funded by PRA has allowed for the reintroduction of many species that were once void in there historic ranges. An example of some species that were reintroduced is bighorn sheep, turkeys, grizzly bears, and waterfowl. The program helps states to manage land and improve habitat. States have improved 9.3 millions acres of private land. Another 36 million acres have been improved across private and public lands. Also, 650,700 acres of waterfowl wetlands and habitat have been restored and protect( U.S Fish and Wildlife Service). The PRA has contributed immensely to conservation since 1937. The effect can be felt all across the country from the reintroduction of species to the restoration of habitat on private land.
The PRA is the main·way that hunting funds conservation but their area few other sources that funds conservation through hunting. The top sources outside of the PRA are duck stamps, license fees, and hunting based conservation groups. Duck stamps are a license that is required to hunt waterfowl anywhere in the U.S.A The money from this license is used to protect habitat and buying easements. Close to 98 cents of each dollar spent goes to habitat or easements. Ducks stamps have conserved 6 million acres and counting(Hunters as Conservationist). The congressional sportsman says that license fees add up to I billion annually (Congressional Sportsmen). The final major source of funding is hunting-based conservation groups. The RMEF states that contributions to conservation groups like Ducks unlimited, RMEF, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the Boone and Crockett club add up to 440 million annually. (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) All of these contributions help to conserve ecosystems and animals all across the country.
There is one other contribution that hunters make that is indirectly related to conservation. When people go hunting they spend money. They spend money on food, gas, guns, ammo, bows, arrows, and lodging. Outside says, that 34 billion is spent on equipment, trips, and other related items. Also, 1 out of every l 00 dollars spent in the U.S Economy comes from hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated activities(Spring). This money helps support local conservation groups, towns, and private landowners who conserve their property. Millions and Millions of dollars are generated in this country each year by hunters.
Through taxes, conservation groups, and economic support hunting helps to support conservation. When you see a hunter who has harvested an animal remember that they have given more than they have taken. In conclusion hunting funds conservation in North America.
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