Stewardship of wilderness is in peril. The most significant contributors to wilderness conservation are hunters, and their numbers continue to dwindle. Hunters flip the bill for wildlife and habitat conservation management through state and federal licensing fees, federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment under the Pittman-Robertson Act (which becomes funding for state management agencies), and through donations to wildlife conservation organizations such as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, and Pheasants Forever.
The ongoing attacks on public lands and gun control coupled with the uneducated public perception of the ethical hunter as anything other than an invaluable management tool further threatens the future of our outdoors heritage. An ongoing and growing concern for hunters is access – access to public lands, access to hunting opportunities, access which would provide mentoring to future generations of wilderness stewards. Access which also provides opportunities to a vast array of outdoors enthusiasts as well as hunters.
The Outdoor Industry Association claims “outdoor recreation is the economy of the future,” but where are our future stewards, our future hunters, going to come from?
The statistics to consider: