As I already indicated, I fully support the proposal which would recognize the American Hunting Culture and its long-standing traditions by the United States Government. Such changes would be beneficial because sporting art increases the interest and understanding of hunting. The crux of the concern about conservation funding is a decline in interest in hunting and a lack of understanding of it. Additionally, Sporting Art embodies “why we hunt” better than words and text.
In my earlier comments, I stood away from the failed attempts at the “backpack tax”, although I did allude to a suite of motions to amend the Pittman Robertson and Dingell Johnson Act Programs to diversify and broaden the paying public. However, I was remiss in not broaching the stipulation in the PRA which re-channels the majority of unused PRA money (after two years) from the states into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund; which is the same fund in which Duck Stamp revenue is held. A smaller portion of unused PRA money is invested, and the interest is put in another account authorized by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to conserve wetlands; not only in the USA, but also Canada and Mexico. Your bird watching constituency should be reminded that conservation of migratory species, since they cross government boundaries; requires an international, continental approach. These are, in a sense, “international refuges”.
Most people understand that hunters are a very large source of conservation funds, and also understand, that despite the trajectory of a shrinking hunting population; the hunter's dollars will always be significant. The bird watching / anti-hunting narrative suggests otherwise, implying the hunting population is so small, or becoming so, our money is akin to lunch change. Some people believe that narrative. However, if we entertain the premise they suggest - that the biggest contributor should have the say-so, we should remember to be careful what is wished for.
I hate to see bird watchers, hikers, etc. on Duck Stamp Lands and Pittman Robertson Lands. But the group that concerns me the most also happens to be the biggest contributor to conservation, even out-contributing hunters, at least through the PRA Program. That group is the target shooters and gun collectors. Some amendments to the PRA already provide some money for target shooting and some accommodation for it on PRA Lands. Because unused PRA money, which reverts back and is re-channeled into the refuge system, an argument can be made that target shooting is a legitimate use of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and other lands such as Waterfowl Production Areas and NAWCA Lands. Such an argument would be bolstered by the logic of the bird watchers and anti-hunters - that the biggest payer is the biggest player with the most important voice… If you follow enough, you also know that the extraction industries are also eager to "contribute".
People that ride ATVs, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are another group also wants in and, like the nature crowd and extraction industries, also want a funding strategy that includes them; because they; likewise, believe if they pay, they can not only play, but influence policy as well. Paint ball enthusiasts also want in for the same reason – land. Unlike hunting, these activities require land, but are NOT wildlife-dependent or habitat-dependent. The habitat condition or type is unimportant for recreation that is non-dependent on wildlife. The myth any land-use group can model a funding program after the hunters, is rooted in accusations of political favoritism and/or agency favoritism and/or collusion or at least a priority on collecting money above wildlife and public interest…
Hunters rank second in generating Duck Stamp and PRA revenue. The first rank is target shooters. Target shooting is a growing sport. According to the logic of the bird watchers and anti-hunters, the target shooters should determine the Duck Stamp and also be allowed to practice target shooting on the National Refuge System. Extraction Industries – oil, coal, natural gas, etc., per the same logic, could conceivably replace target shooters at the top of the hierarchy. I disagree with that logic, no matter how it is delivered - the entire Refuge System and the Duck Stamp exists only because of hunting. The Duck Stamp is a hunting license specifically to take ducks, geese, and swans.
You can still speak up for hunting on this until Midnight tonight. I have already posted about this and the information on how to voice your support can be found there. It can be also found on our website. In addition, we also circulated the same by email and Facebook.
1798 - An Act of the General Assembly "suppressing immorality" makes it unlawful to shoot, hunt or gun, or to take fish, on Sunday.
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