It's a myth commonly voiced by hunters that they finance wildlife conservation in America through their hunting fees and the tax dollars paid for ammunition and other equipment purchases.
That worn out fairytale resurfaced again recently when a contributor to MLF's Facebook page challenged "all of you so called world savers to match even half the dollars we hunters contribute to ensure that wildlife continue to grow in numbers.
Rising to the challenge, MLF checked that statement against the official accounting on the matter: The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Related Recreation. This report, released every five years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (the most recent was in 2011) provided the following facts:
Number of Participants
33.1 million - number of fishermen
13.7 million - number of hunters
71.8 million - number of wildlife watchers
Money Spent *
$41.8 billion - spent by fishermen
$33.7 billion - spent by hunters
$54.9 billion - spent by wildlife watchers
As with all fairytales, there is some modicum of truth embedded along with all the fable; and in this case it's that many states still use the outdated method of financing their game agencies almost exclusively with fees collected from the sale of fishing licenses and hunting tags. It is almost as if they do so just so to justify a resource extraction philosophy and practice.
However, several other states, including California, use a more enlightened approach and finance the protection of their wildlife resources through a broad array of funding sources - including taxpayer support.
Unfortunately, even in those cases where the financial burden of protecting wildlife and their habitat is carried by all of a state's taxpayers, most state game agencies still acquiesce to the wishes of hunters on most policy matters.
* This included equipment purchases, taxes and fees paid, and indirect money spent on activity.
View the The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Related Recreation Report