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We Have Wildlife Because We Hunt Wildlife

August 2020
Author: Robbie Kroger, Founder of Blood Origins

For the average American, seeing wildlife, being a part of wildlife, is something that we take for granted. If you had to ask the average American if they knew what Pittman Robertson Dingell Johnson meant, what would they say? They likely would say that they had never heard of those people. If you ask the average American about wildlife management in the United States on State Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, or National Parks, they wouldn’t be able to explain to you nor understand how wildlife populations are sustained or how wildlife populations are managed. You see, for there to be wildlife in the Continental U.S., as well as in North America, there has to be hunting.

We have wildlife because we hunt wildlife. It’s a very simple statement with profound consequences. This statement is not mine; I am borrowing it from John Bair, a Utah native who has grown up hunting in his beloved state. Have you ever stopped to think about why we actually have wildlife in the U.S.? It’s because, like most places in the world, wildlife holds a valuable economic asset to the United States. Because of that asset, we keep wildlife around, we sustain it, and we conserve it.

What if the opposite were true? What if there was no hunting? What would happen? Have you ever considered that?

Currently in Colorado, there is a measure that has been enacted by the Colorado Wildlife Commission that has realized that hunter and fishermen numbers are at risk across the U.S., thus license sales are also at risk for the funding of conservation and restoration. Essentially, a world without hunting is coming to fruition. Colorado’s Wildlife Commission has now stated that anyone utilizing state wildlife areas, starting July 1st, must buy a hunting and fishing license. Yes, even if you are a paddleboarder. All users will start contributing to using state lands, not just hunters. In reading the articles, it’s interesting to note the feedback. One comment stood out. This comment stated, “I think it’s terrible that a state agency continues to engage in these scams to get more money so its agents can sit on their brains in their trucks. I am not buying into it.”

Interesting. Looks like the answer we would expect. Let us respond to the commenter. You aren’t buying into what? State agencies’ budgets are cut every single year. The agents that are in the trucks are likely covering a three county radius and doing the job of three agents because they don’t have the budget to fill vacant positions. Funding for these agents typically comes directly from hunting and fishing license sales in the state. The areas they are patrolling, state lands, are managed through funding that comes from a piece of legislation called the Pittman Robertson Act, which excises 11% on all firearm and hunting related apparel sales and then returns that funding to state wildlife agencies for conservation funding. It’s law. It’s how state wildlife management areas are funded right now. Less hunters means less license sales. Less hunters means less hunting equipment and apparel being purchased. Both mean less money for state wildlife agencies to do their jobs managing the wildlife resources we take for granted.

The question will be will we have wildlife if we don’t hunt it? You tell me. Buy your hunting and fishing license. Encourage your friends to do the same. Recruit a new hunter or fisher. My bet is on us. I’m not hedging my bets on the recreational establishment stepping up and doing their bit. Who will continue to conserve wildlife and wild places? #hunterswill.