In Response to Responsive Management- Hunters' Contributions to U.S. Wildlife Conservation

By Richard Cheatham, DSC Foundation President –

“Hunters do nothing for conservation”.

That is a quote from a comment on DSC Foundation’s post about lion hunting and lion conservation. We all immediately recognize the absurdity of the comment, but it is often the default retort from the anti-hunting crowd and too often we let it slide without rebuttal.

Thanks to a recent article from Responsive Management, we now have a clear, concise summary of what many of us know to be true. We also know that many hunters and many more non-hunters don’t know the details and are skeptical when blanket statements of the benefits of hunting are put forward.

Let’s focus on the monies raised for conservation by hunters in the US alone.

The Pittman Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937.

The Pittman Robertson Act created an excise tax on the sale guns, ammunition and archery equipment. Pittman Robertson excise tax revenue is dedicated and restricted to wildlife management programs and the funds are disbursed to state wildlife agencies. Since its inception, the Pittman Robertson excise tax program has generated $18,000,000,000.00. Yes, you read that right. $18,000,000,000.00 – for wildlife restoration and conservation projects and programs in the United States.

The Federal Duck Stamp Program

The program began in the early 1930s. A stamp is required to be purchased by all waterfowl hunters in the United States, but a small percentage of stamps are also purchased by non-hunters. 98% of the revenue from the sale of Federal duck stamps is dedicated and restricted to wetland protection and restoration in the national Wildlife refuge System. The restoration and protection of these wetlands obviously benefits all riparian habitat dwellers, not just ducks, geese and other hunted species. The Federal duck stamp program has raised approximately $800,000,000.00 since 1934. Many states have implemented similar stamp requirements generating millions more in revenue for wildlife conservation.

Hunting Conservation Organization funds

Although they are familiar to many hunters, the general public is likely unaware of the name and number of non-profit hunting conservation organizations, or the amount of money raised by those organizations for wildlife conservation purposes. Who are these organizations? Dallas Safari Club, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club international, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Coalition are a few. Each year, these organizations raise millions of dollar for wildlife conservation. According to the Responsive Management article, research shows that “hunters voluntarily donated more than four times the amount that non-hunters voluntarily donated to wildlife conservation”.

We haven’t mentioned hunting license sales revenue, special tag sales like the Governor’s tag for desert bighorn sheep in Texas, and the many other revenue sources which support, directly, wildlife conservation initiatives.

A discussion of how these monies are spent and the economic impact of those expenditures will be posted later, but let those numbers sink in. The next time someone tells you that hunters do nothing for conservation, remind them that hunters have contributed over NINETEEN BILLION DOLLARS- the numbers are real and verifiable – and then ask the doubter what he or she has done for wildlife conservation.


Thank you, Responsive Management, for your great work. A copy of the article can be found here.

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