You’ve heard me speak of the role and value of hunting - that it is a force for conservation. Now, here it is from H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D, of the National Center for Policy Analysis, which was kind enough to let us do this reprint. Please note that many of the figures Dr. Burnett cites have long been exceeded and are quite conservative. – John J. Jackson, III.
Hunters: Founders and Leaders of Wildlife Conservation
By H. Sterling Burnett
The state of wildlife on the African continent today resembles that of wildlife in the United States in the late 19th century. African wildlife populations are declining as habitat is converted to farming, wildlife is competing with or preying on domestic livestock and wildlife pursuit is increasingly commercialized. But first in the US and now in Africa, hunters have led the charge to conserve wildlife. Although some may find the fact surprising, outdoor sportsmen proposed and carried out virtually all of the initiatives that saved important US game species from extinction. Indeed, most funding for the research into wildlife needs and habitat preservation still is provided by hunters. If Africa’s diverse wildlife is to survive, it too likely will owe that survival to hunters.
President Theodore Roosevelt, a noted big game hunter, is often credited as the initial force behind American wildlife conservation. While Roosevelt did draw vital public attention to wildlife conservation, hunters began public and private efforts decades before Roosevelt established the first wildlife reservation in 1903.
In 1846, prominent sportsmen prodded Rhode Island legislators into passing the first seasonal hunting regulation for waterfowl.
In 1871, a sportsmen’s association established the nation’s first incorporated game preserve, the 12,000-acre Blooming Grove Park in Pike County, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of preserving, importing, breeding and propagating game animals, birds and fish, and of furnishing facilities to the members for hunting, shooting and fishing. In 1877, prominent New York sportsmen formed the Bisby Club in the Adirondack Mountains, and by the early 1890s the original group merged with the Adirondack League Club to protect a 179,000-acre game reserve. In 1878, sportsmen in Iowa pushed legislation to initiate the first limits on the number of animals taken daily.
The late 19th century saw lobbying and grassroots organizing by hunting organizations such as the Boone and Crockett Club (formed in 1887), whose members included Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, founder of the US Forest Service, and the National Rifle Association (1871); later came the Izaak Walton League (1922). Bolstered by editorials and articles in outdoor journals such as Forest and Stream (1873), Field and Stream (1874) and American Sportsmen (1871), the organizations pressed Congress to pass the first substantial national wildlife management bills:
The Lacey Act (1900), the first federal law protecting game, prohibited the interstate shipment of illegally taken wildlife and importation of species. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918) regulated the hunting of migratory birds. The Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (1934), known as the Duck Stamp Act, required hunters of migratory birds to buy a federal duck stamp, with the generated revenue dedicated to wetlands conservation projects.
The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (1937), also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, created a 10 percent excise tax, increased later to 11 percent, on sporting arms and ammunition. Revenue is deposited in a special trust fund under the management of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to be used for state wildlife restoration projects. In 1908, New York became the first state to require a hunting license. By 1928, every state had instituted a hunting license requirement, with the funds dedicated to wildlife management.
Dollars Save Wildlife
The various licenses, fees and taxes on hunting and hunting equipment fund more than 90 percent of the budgets of state fish and wildlife agencies. Since 1923, sales of state hunting licenses, tags and permits have provided more than $10.2 billion for wildlife management, habitat acquisition and enhancement and conservation law enforcement. The Federal Duck Stamp Program has generated more than $500 million for the purchase and protection of wetlands, with duck stamp revenue reaching $22.9 million annually by 1996. The Pittman-Robertson Act has distributed more than $3.8 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies since 1937. In addition, the more than 15 million licensed hunters in the US direct money, time and effort to conserve wildlife and habitat as individuals and through local clubs, state conservation groups, state hunting organizations and many national associations.
The 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation reports that hunting expenditures totaled $20.6 billion, with $11.3 billion going for hunting equipment, $5.2 billion for trip-related expenses and $4.1 billion for other expenses such as land leases, membership dues and licenses. Combined with fishing and trapping licenses and taxes, the total sportsmen’s wildlife conservation contribution for 2000 was over $3.7 billion.
Hunters’ dollars and efforts have paid off for wildlife. In the 1920s, many wildlife populations were at historic lows, but now they are booming. As the graphic shows: (John Jackson Note: You can see this graph on Conservation Force’s website at: www.ConservationForce.org. Click on “Alerts”) whitetail deer populations had declined to approximately 300,000, wild turkey to fewer than 30,000, pronghorn antelope to only 25,000 and North American elk to 50,000; the wood duck was nearly extinct and there were fewer than 500 bison. Today, there are more than 20 million whitetail deer, more than 4 million turkeys (with populations in every state but Alaska) and more than 1 million antelope and elk.
Wood ducks, numbering over 3 million, are the most common breeding waterfowl in the US, and bison number 350,000. By conserving habitat for game animals, hunters benefit non-game wildlife as well. For instance, hundreds of threatened and endangered non-game animals live on the 9 million-plus acres restored by Ducks Unlimited, a private conservation organization founded by duck hunters.
Hunters Benefit African Wildlife
Individually and through organizations such as Safari Club International big-game hunters from the United States and around the world also have worked with governments in Africa to save threatened and endangered African wildlife. Hunters, private landowners and even tribes and villages have worked together to establish wildlife conservancies in several countries. Hunting is the main source of income for the conservancies and for many ranchers, and it provides native peoples and private landowners alike with incentives to preserve wildlife in Zimbabwe and in other poverty-stricken nations.
In Africa, the motto is: If it pays, it stays. The conservancies work to develop relationships with and improve the local economy of nearby communities. Conservancies involve locals who work as trackers for hunting parties and as guards to ward off poachers. One conservancy also has set up a trust on behalf of the local communities. To establish an annual income, the trust purchases wildlife to be released in the conservancy, and the conservancy later pays the trust for any increases in population over the original number of animals. Among the animals that have come to be seen by Africans as desirable as opposed to pests are elephants, lions, leopards and numerous antelope species.
Among some environmental groups, hunting has a bad name due to the early excesses of market hunting in the United States and poaching in Africa. Yet, regulated sporthunting has not caused or threatened the extinction of a single species. On the contrary, in America and Africa, the money hunters spend and contribute pays the cost of wildlife protection.
(Postscript: H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Dallas Headquarters can be reached at: 12655 N. Central Expy., Suite 720, Dallas, TX 75243-1739. Tel. 972-386-6272. Fax 972-386-0924. The Washington Office can be reached at: 655 15th St. N.W., Suite 375, Washington, DC 20005. Tel. 202-628-6671. Fax 202-628-6474. For more information, contact: Sean Tuffnell in Dallas at 972-386-6272; or Joan Kirby in Washington at 202-628-6671.)
EU Revises Grizzly Decision, Alberta Grizzly Under Attack, More...
European Union Revises Its British Columbia Grizzly Decision: The Scientific Review Group (SRG) of the European Union has changed its recommendation on the import of grizzly bear from British Columbia. It has made a determination that the hunting is not detrimental, in effect reversing its earlier recommendation to the EU member nations that grizzly trophy imports not be permitted. The new advise is based upon additional documentation furnished by British Columbia and the Canadian Wildlife Service and their request for the SRG to reconsider its scientific recommendation to the European Union. The SRG had not been able to make a positive finding in the early fall, but the grizzly trophy imports never reached the point of actually being banned by the EU. This new, more favorable SRG opinion has been rendered before the earlier negative opinion was put in effect in Europe. We don’t know of any EU member country that voluntarily denied the import based simply on the SRG finding, though it should be said that the country of Germany is still waffling. The upshot is, one more attempt by the Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA) to stop grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia has been thwarted. Instead of embarrassing the Canadian Wildlife Service into stopping the permitting of CITES export permits for grizzly from British Columbia, the EIA has awakened a formidable foe in the Canadian Wildlife Service!
Ultimately, the fate of grizzly bear hunting in British Columbia will depend on the Panel of Experts that have been appointed by the BC Ministry itself. The anti-hunters’ campaign has apparently led to the creation of that panel and the temporary closure of a number of particular hunting areas that remain closed. We can expect that this will lead to the taking of some of those bears in problem animal control.
Alberta grizzly hunting may also be coming under attack: Protectionist interests in Canada have begun a campaign to treat Alberta’s Grizzly as “endangered.” No immediate action is expected but the bandwagon may be forming. It is of little direct and immediate concern to hunters who travel because the Province of Alberta does not permit nonresident hunting of Grizzly, nor is nonresident hunting of grizzly expected in the future.
Conservation Force Creates Cameroon Elephant Conservation Fund: The import of elephant trophies from Cameroon depends upon proof of enhancement of the survival of Cameroon elephants by the hunting activity. The US Fish & Wildlife Service rationale for the Special Rule that limits and allows the import of elephant trophies only when “enhancement” is proven includes the statement that “the killing of elephants for sporthunting enhances the survival of the species by providing financial support for programs for elephant conservation.” For that reason, we long ago attempted to create a fund to finance elephant enhancement by collecting a $500 (US) conservation surcharge from each successful hunter. The effort has been plagued with one problem after another and abandoned. Some of the expenditures can’t be tracked after the passage of several years, some hunting operators and professional hunters did not comply, some chasse libre (unguided) hunters choose not to pay it – plus, there are other inherent problems.
The USF&WS has cited the failure to establish an account and administer the fund in its recent denial of 1998 and 1999 Cameroon elephant import permits. Conservation Force is handling the Request for Reconsideration of those permits as a pro bono public legal service. This has proven to be a substantial undertaking in part because the hunts occurred four years ago. As a strategy in the administrative reconsideration, each of the successful hunters in 1998 and 1999 have been asked and advised to donate $500 (US) directly to Conservation Force for a new Cameroon Elephant Conservation Fund to be held exclusively for elephant projects in Cameroon that are well documented and/or pre-approved by the USF&WS. This will end the accountability and tracing problems that have plagued the project. It should constitute proof of “enhancement” to serve hunters, instead of being another reason to deny permits. Moreover, it is a tax-deductible donation to the extent allowed by law because Conservation Force is a 501(c)3 public charitable foundation, to which contributions are tax deductible.
In the future, successful Cameroon elephant hunters are advised to send a $500 (US) donation to Conservation Force earmarked expressly for the “Cameroon Elephant Conservation Fund.” No administrative fee is charged against the fund. No part is to be deducted. Conservation Force is bearing the costs of administering the fund for the good and necessity of the cause and to avoid complaint.
Yours truly began the Cameroon Initiative in the early 1990s, successfully established the import of the first elephant trophies following their Appendix 1 listing by CITES and re-established it after that when permits were denied in 1997. We will no longer rely upon other organizations or bodies to assume any part of the effort. Conservation Force is stepping up to the plate to avoid the problems, half-hearted efforts and excuses of others. The superb new Director of Cameroon’s hunting program, Conservation Force’s volunteer field ecologist, Andre DeGeorges, and the leading professional hunters operating in Cameroon are all pulling together with Conservation Force to get Cameroon right again.
Cameroon has become the conservation hub of Central and West Africa. All the major international conservation organizations have set up offices there, or are in the process of doing so. The new Director, Denis Koulagna Koutou, took office in June 1999. He has made great strides with what he has had to work with. The ministry has doubled the country’s protected habitat in only a few years and has plans to set aside 30 percent of the country before 2010. That is to be habitat for elephant forever. Elephant can be restored if there is sufficient habitat, but can’t if there isn’t. Moreover, several studies over the period of a decade indicate that the forest elephant populations in Cameroon are believed to be the densest in the world. We will keep you advised as we once again turn the Cameroon Initiative around. If you would like a copy of the Request for Reconsideration filed by Conservation Force for the denial of the 1998 and 1999 permits, contact Conservation Force at: Tel. 504-837-1233. Fax 504-837-1145 FAX. E-mail: email@example.com. A copy will be sent out for the copying and mailing costs. We can also e-mail it. We are not duplicating the voluminous attachments except for special requests because of their number and the related costs.
Botswana Lion: The USF&WS has received official notice from Botswana that its lion hunting is to be closed another year. This is official notification that it will be closed for 2002, and further confirmation of our worst fears that Botswana is drifting away from sustainable use through tourist safari hunting as a means of conservation and community development, particularly of key game species. It is a lose-lose situation for all concerned, including the lions that are being deprived of their game animal conservation status.
Canadian Wildlife Service Director Departing: David Brackett, the Director General of the Canadian Wildlife Service, gave his notice and departed the Service in April. Apparently, he will continue to serve as the Chairman of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN that is the umbrella of all the Specialist Groups. David will no doubt be a loss to the service, and they have no immediate replacement.
Anchorage Added to Trophy Import Ports: The USF&WS has added Anchorage, Alaska, to the list of ports from which hunting trophies can be shipped into or from the United States.- John J. Jackson, III, Chairman, Conservation Force.
For more information on Conservation Force and/or the services available through Jackson’s alliance with The Hunting Report, write:
One Lakeway Center
Metairie, LA 70002.
Tel. 504-837-1233. Fax 504-837-1145.