Misinformation on our hunting and angling traditions directed to impressionable students can have wide and long-lasting repercussions, especially as these students grow up to be voters, legislators, attorneys and public officials. On the whole, America’s students are not hearing about the value of science-based conservation and the integral role of hunting and angling in natural resource management. State legislators are encouraged to consider policies that promote the teaching in our public educational institutions of ethical and humane fish and wildlife management, as well as the ecological, societal, and economic benefits of hunting and fishing.
In the United States, state-based conservation is primarily funded by hunters, recreational shooters, anglers, and boaters through their purchases of hunting and fishing licenses and taxable gear. This funding mechanism is known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), and approximately 60% of the average state fish and wildlife agency’s operating budget is funded through this “user pays — public benefits” system, rather than through federal or state taxes. Without hunting, recreational shooting, angling, and boating, states would not be able to fund the majority of their science-based conservation efforts. State fish and wildlife agencies would also be limited in their ability to open and maintain access to outdoor recreation activities enjoyed by the public as a whole.
Despite the significant financial, ecological, and societal benefits of regulated hunting and angling, their futures are at risk. Consequently, actions that reduce hunting and angling opportunities will also directly decrease funding through the American System of Conservation Funding. Animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) oppose hunting and angling, and they have established a presence in elementary and secondary schools, as well as law schools across the country. These groups offer opportunities and propose certain guidelines for students to start animal rights clubs at their schools. They reach students through appalling, misguided, and deliberately misinforming publications, prepared lesson plans, and other classroom materials. These materials fail to acknowledge the vast conservation and economic benefits provided by hunting and angling, nor do they speak to the need for science-based fish and wildlife management.
Points of Interest
- Approximately 167 law schools in the U.S. and Canada now have “animal law” classes. These courses tend to challenge the basic concept of animals as property and to give students the tools necessary to be advocates for this “injustice.”
- Animal law sections are popping up in most state bar associations, and the number of firms and lawyers willing to represent animal advocacy causes pro bono is on the rise.
- Hunters and anglers continue to contribute more than a billion dollars each year towards the conservation of fish, wildlife, and their habitats by buying hunting and angling licenses and associated taxable gear.
- State fish and wildlife agencies consider regulated hunting and angling to be important, science-backed tools for managing many fish and wildlife populations to sustainable population levels.
- Hunting and trapping also help reduce human/wildlife conflicts such as crop damage, predatory harm, vehicle collisions, and unwanted wildlife in suburban and urban areas.
- In 2020, AB 1063 was proposed (and subsequently failed) in New York. This bill posed to expand the requirements for teaching the “humane education of animals” in secondary schools. The curriculum would have included teaching: “the humane treatment and protection of animals,” as well as “the principles of kindness to and respect for animals and observance of laws and rules pertaining to the humane treatment of animals.”
Misinformation directed to the public, particularly young students, has wide and long-lasting repercussions. Students grow up to be voters, legislators, attorneys, and public officials. America’s students are not hearing about the value of science-based conservation and the integral role of hunting and angling in natural resource management. State legislators are encouraged to shed light on the anti-hunting groups’ infiltration of our nation’s educational institutions and to consider policies that promote the teaching of ethical and humane fish and wildlife management as well as the ecological, societal, and economic benefits of hunting and fishing in our public educational institutions.