Only 5% of Americans over 16 years old go hunting.
Hunting is an essential part of wildlife conservation.
Birdwatching, photography, and hiking are growing.
Michigan used general funds for conservation projects.
(NewsReady.com) – Hunting is on the decline in the United States. As older Americans put their weapons down, it looks like their kids aren’t as interested in picking them up. Unfortunately, that’s causing problems for wildlife funding.
A large part of the money states use for conservation projects comes from hunting. Taxes on weapons, hunting licenses, and permits all contribute to the funds to protect wildlife. When people are not buying those items, cash for critical programs declines.
For example, in Wisconsin, the state’s Department of National Resources had to cut funding for invasive species control after a $4-6 million budget shortfall crippled the agency. Colorado has lost millions as well and has also reduced funding for efforts to control invasive species.
Sportsmen’s Alliance Vice President of Marketing and Communications Brian Lynn has a warning for America:
“Without hunting, fishing and trapping, conservation in this country collapses. Point blank…all the money that is being spent…that funds all of your state wildlife fish and game agencies… All of that would go away.”
Driving the Decline
Young people are not as interested in hunting as the generations before them. In 2016, there were 11.5 million hunters in the US. That’s more than 2 million fewer than in 2011. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, adults 25 to 34 accounted for a 16% decline in numbers.
“BuckVentures” Host Jeff Danker said, “Kids, we’re losing them. If Grandpa don’t [sic] hunt or Dad don’t hunt, they ain’t hunting.”
What’s Being Done to Address It
States and the US government are looking for ways to make up the shortfalls. Congress may tap into gas and oil revenues to pay for programs. Pennsylvania will allow hunting on some Sundays now. Some states are adding taxes to make up for it.
Others have decided to monetize activities that more people are participating in, like wildlife-viewing. Director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, Mary Jean Huston, said the way the programs are funded needs to evolve:
“Conservationists need to be looking at what is the next step to keep our conservation programs and places strong and healthy.”
For now, the money hunters contribute to the wildlife funds are the main sources of revenue. So, if you’re a hunter, share your love for the sport. If you aren’t a hunter, go see what it is all about. The land and animals you love may depend on it.
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