Hunters as Conservationists

Theodore RooseveltIn the late 1800s and early 1900s, wildlife was in trouble. The demand for wildlife products such as furs, game meat and feathers was at an all-time high.

Hunters supported laws to prevent over-hunting and protect the health of wildlife populations for future generations. Hunters led the way in the restoration of America's wildlife.

Early leaders in conservation, such as Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, were hunters. President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national parks, developed conservation programs and started the wildlife preserve program. Aldo Leopold wrote the book on modern wildlife management. His methods are still used today, and conservationists worldwide quote his books.

Conservation groups formed over a hundred years ago, and conservation groups today, support safe and ethical hunting. Many members of conservation groups are hunters. Hunters still lead the way in conservation. Millions of people hunt and also contribute to the welfare of wildlife in America through licenses and taxes on hunting equipment. Responsible hunters follow game laws and a code of ethics. Many hunters belong to conservation organizations and actively contribute time, money and effort to help wildlife populations.

Paying for Wildlife

  • Hunters have contributed over $5.5 billion for conservation in less than 60 years.
  • Hunters annually pay over $372 million a year for conservation.
  • Hunters do more to aid wildlife than any other group in America.

Hunters and Wildlife Restoration

Canada Geese at South Padre IslandHunters supported laws that created conservation stamps and funds to protect and enhance wildlife habitat. Laws ensure that hunting license fees and taxes on sporting goods pay for wildlife management, habitat conservation and hunter education.

Through organizations such as Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, the Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups, hunters have raised millions of dollars and contributed thousands of hours to benefit wildlife

Many people would support hunting more if they knew who was picking up the bills for conservation - hunters!

You contribute every time you buy a federal duck stamp. How?

The money paid by hunters for these stamps is used by the government to buy and lease wetlands for waterfowl refuges and waterfowl production. Many different varieties of shorebirds and animals which are not hunted share the benefits with those that are hunted. Through the purchase of federal duck stamps, hunters presently spend about $11 million a year for conservation.

Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Programs

Wildlife and Sportfish RestorationWSFR programs provide the funds that help restore and improve wildlife habitat, management, research, and support hunter education. The money is collected through excise taxes. “Excise” taxes are taxes on specific products or goods.

Since 1937 Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Funds have provided over $12 billion nationwide for fish and wildlife, supplied jobs for many Americans, and benefitted local economies through boating, fishing, hunting, and shooting activities. Manufacturers pay these taxes directly to the federal government. They are simply part of the sticker price. As a result, most hunters are completely unaware that their purchases generate these conservation funds.

WSFR Federal legislation that supports conservation:

Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (1937) - also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, created a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition
Dingell-Johnson Act- (1950) Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act - a 10 percent excise tax on fishing equipment and a 3 percent tax on electric trolling motors and sonar fish finders.
Dingell-Hart Bill- (1970) - a 10 percent excise tax on handguns available for wildlife restoration and hunter safety training. Proceeds generate $40 million per year.
Dingell-Goodling Bill- (1972) - an 11 percent excise tax on archery equipment. Proceeds generate $20 million per year.
Wallop-Breaux Bill- (1984) - increased the tax base for sport fish restoration to include a portion of the Federal fuels tax and import duties on fishing tackle and pleasure boats.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs have provided more than $650 million to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Here are a few accomplishments made possible through the support of hunters, shooters, anglers and boaters:

  • $300 million for wildlife research and conservation.
  • Creation of 51 wildlife management areas (756,464 acres).
  • Hunter education, shooting range development, leasing of public hunting lands.
  • To date, more than 393 million fingerlings of 40 different species have been stocked in freshwater from hatcheries of the TPWD Inland Fisheries Division .
  • Restoration of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, pronghorn and bighorn sheep.
  • $350 million to Texas for fisheries research and conservation, creation of fish hatcheries, boater and angler education, fishing piers, boat ramp and marina construction.
  • Between 1983-2011, TPWD Coastal hatcheries released 624 million red drum and 65 million spotted sea trout fish fingerlings. 

Watch a video on Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration