Probably the biggest problem for wildlife conservation is funding. Without proper funding wildlife agencies, scientists, and land owners can not work towards better wildlife conservation. Yet somehow wildlife agencies still employ game rangers to prevent wildlife crimes, biologists still head out into the field to study species, and conservation minded land owners have still managed to better their lands for wild animals. So how was all of this paid for? The simple answer, hunters.

Yes I said it. Though the anti-hunting/ animal rights community would like to portray hunters as the villain, hunters are the real heroes. To make a pop culture reference think of Batman. Although painted as bad guys, hunters are the ones doing the most good for wildlife. When money is needed for conservation hunters have always been the first ones to step up to the plate and open their wallets.

There is no better example of this than right here in the U.S with the Pittman-Robertson Act which was originally proposed by a hunters. This act poses a tax on the manufacture of all hunting related equipment, a tax which is naturally added to the cost of items and gladly paid by hunters when we buy our equipment. The revenues from this tax go on to fund our state wildlife agencies in their efforts to protect our treasured wildlife. In fact, as can be read in the link attached to the end of this article, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources receives over 70% of its funding from Pittman-Robertson alone. On top of that, hunters go one leg further to support game agencies by purchasing hunting licenses and tags.

Aside from the Pittman Robertson Act the other landmark decision by hunters to protect wildlife was the creation of the duck stamp. This action has led to the creation of hundreds of wetlands, restoring critical habitat for waterfowl.

Lets take a trip outside the United States to observe this phenomena on other continents. Africa is the best example I can give on an international scale. Hunting brings big money to otherwise poor communities. Thanks to the dollars, euros, pounds, etc… brought to Africa by foreign hunters, as well as the money paid by local hunters, African wildlife has found a value to the local communities which in turn tolerate or even welcome wildlife in the areas around them now. Wildlife once meant property damage, crop raiding, livestock losses, and occasionally man-eating. With a thriving trophy hunting industry locals now see wildlife as jobs, schools, and a ready supply of red meat as these are often provided to the local people by the hunting outfitters. Aside from providing direct benefits to local peoples in return for their tolerance, the money from hunting also goes back directly to wildlife. Funding from hunters has allowed for better anti-poaching patrols which protect valuable and endangered species such as rhinos, elephant, and lions.

References:

Caro et al. Animal breeding systems and big game hunting: models and applications. Biological Conservation: 142 (2009) 909-929.

Frost and Bond. The CAMPFIRE program me in Zimbabwe: payments for wildlife services. Ecological Economics: 65 (2008) 776-787.

McGranahan. Identifying sustainability assessment factors for ecotourism and trophy hunting on private rangeland in Namibia. Journal of Sustainable Tourism: 19 (2011) 115-131.

Usongo and Nkanje. Participatory approaches towards forest conservation: the case of Lobéké National Park, South east Cameroon. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology: 11 (2004) 119-127.

Michigan DNR Thanks Hunters, Celebrates 75 Years of Conservation Funding Success with Pittman-Robertson Act Anniversary.

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