On March 2, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), along with 193 other organizations representing food producers, wildlife organizations, sportsmen’s groups, and local governments signed-on to a letter supporting the United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA – APHIS) Wildlife Services program. The letters – sent to the Chairmen and Ranking Members on the Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies in both the House and Senate – encouraged demonstrated support for Wildlife Services (WS) through providing sufficient funding for two budget line-items for WS Damage Management and WS Methods Development.
Beyond the growing concern of the spread of wildlife-borne diseases to humans, livestock, and other wildlife, problematic wildlife causes more than $12.8 billion in damages each year to our nation’s natural resources, public infrastructure, private property and agriculture. Were it not for sportsmen and women, these figures would be much higher. Hunters eliminate the need to either hire expensive sharpshooters or undertake ineffective and extremely costly contraception or sterilization programs to control wildlife populations; through this active management of wildlife, population densities are effectively regulated and negative human/wildlife interactions are minimized.
In addition to their priority initiatives to control and minimize damage by nuisance wildlife, Wildlife Services also invests in the conservation of game species through cooperative agreements with state and federal fish and wildlife management agencies. These efforts resulted in numerous benefits for mule deer, bighorn sheep, antelope and waterfowl last year. The sportsmen’s community plays the primary role in funding these conservation efforts though paying excise taxes on sporting goods and through purchasing licenses. Collectively these sportsmen-generated revenue streams constitute the American System of Conservation Funding, which provides roughly 80% of the funding that state fish and wildlife agencies depend on to conduct their conservation projects. The Sportsmen’s community is grateful for Wildlife Services assistance in these efforts.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?