Many American’s don’t know that around the turn of the 19th century (1900), wildlife in our nation was nearly wiped out. Everything from wood ducks to wolves was on the verge of extinction. It may seem counterintuitive, but hunting is the reason wildlife thrives today!
Bringing the actual animals back in the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt wanted to find money to try to rebuild American wildlife. No one was gonna pay for this.So Roosevelt goes around to the rod and gun clubs in America groups like what sitting right here. He goes around to the rod and gun clubs of America and says, if you want wildlife you’re gonna have to pay for it because no one else will do it.They come up with this thing called the wildlife restoration act, which is gonna put a 13% tax on guns and ammunition. We now know this as the Pittman-Robertson fund. They had overwhelming support with hunters who really had nothing to hunt. They had overwhelming support from the people who are gonna be losing business by producing firearms that are gonna cost 13 to 14 percent more, but the thing goes from introduction to the President’s signature in 90 days. To put that in perspective the Affordable Care Act, which we’re trying to get rid of, took a year to get the same amount of traction. That bill has been funding wildlife conservation in this country, for 90 years!
In fact, 60 to 90 percent of state fish and wildlife agency money comes from hunters or firearm users. They get their money from Pittman-Robertson money and Dingell-Johnson money. Which comes from buying fishing tackle under Dingell-Johnson, under Pittmann-Roberts it comes from hunting equipment, guns, and ammunition. These excise taxes are generating about a billion dollars annually for fish and wildlife. The other revenue that fish and wildlife agencies receive comes from hunting and fishing licenses permits and stamps. We [hunters, anglers, and shooters] have been footing the bill for American wildlife since that day! No one else is doing anything near what we do.
If we look at all the things that money goes toward, we’re talking research of wildlife diseases we’re talking, about enforcement of game laws, habitat improvement, public access issues, public access enhancement and all the non game work. Right now Wyoming spends about nine million dollars every year on non game. They spend two million dollars a year on each grizzly bear. If you look at what Idaho spends per child on public education, Wyoming spends over half of that on every grizzly bear that lives in Wyoming. Every year that comes out of your pocket. Which is not a thing to be ashamed of. But it’s a thing to be grateful for because I think again in explaining ourselves and understanding our place in the world.
I think it’s really important to understand the impact that we have ahead and what we carry with it and our claim to have a seat at the table, because no other industry wants to go near this stuff. Bird watching, backpacking, skiing, mountain biking you go talk to any of these industries and say, “hey, I got an idea. Let’s raise your prices. 13 to 14 percent on everything that you buy to be outside and we’ll use that to fund American wildlife.” Categorically, those industries reject that idea. Yet many people in those industries wanna come and question the legitimacy of our input into wildlife or they wanna push it aside. That we should disassociate with wildlife. That wildlife should be something that is viewed out of mirror, that it’s an artifact of the past and that we have no right to be engage with wildlife in this ancestral pursuit of using a renewable resource while we pay for it all.
It’s easy to see why hunters might sometimes feel a little burned and why this chunk might focus a lot on this little chunk right here, but it’s just a thing that we’ve done very successfully and that I think we’re gonna continue to do successfully.