By Joel Hodgdon, Central Midwestern States Coordinator
Due to the efforts of state fish and wildlife agencies working in partnership with the sportsmen and women who fund these agencies’ conservation efforts through the American System of Conservation Funding, the populations of three high-profile wildlife species across the Midwest region are rebounding and expanding their range after years of decline.
For over 80 years, sportsmen and women have played an integral and unique role in providing the vast majority of conservation funding in the United States through the American System of Conservation Funding program. A “user-pays, public benefits” structure, hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters provide funds through excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and archery equipment, as well as by purchasing state hunting and fishing licenses, which are then distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies and provide many and varied benefits for the public at large. In 2017 alone, sportsmen and women provided about $63 million to the Missouri Department of Conservation, $34 million to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and $100 million in funding to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
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?