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CASH Courier > 2005 Fall Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Fall 2005 Issue

TAKE HEART - PORT HUNTING IS MOVING TOWARD THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY

BY PETER MULLER

While our emphasis is on sport hunting, we’ve been observing that hunting has been declining in the current American culture for decades. No it’s not going fast enough to suit us – but nevertheless it’s moving toward the dustbin of history (as Luke Dommer, the founder of C.A.S.H., was fond of saying) at a pretty good clip.

On June 1, 2004, Dave Workman of ESPN Outdoors reports: “NRA prez: Government is driving hunters out.” In the article NRA president Kayne Robinson laments the decline of hunting and blames government agencies for their antihunting stance. (We haven’t really observed that – but it would be a refreshing change.)


A SAFER FUTURE IS IN STORE FOR THEM
Photo by Jim Robertson @ www.animalsinthewild.org

Robinson predicts that unless things change, ten million hunters could be lost in the next few years. That would indeed be a major decline since there are currently less than 13 million hunters in the US – down from 17.4 million in 1980. That is a decline of about 4.5 million in 25 years while the population of the US has increased.

The rate of decline will accelerate as there are minimum threshold numbers of hunters required in each state to keep the state Fish and Game agencies financed.

Robinson laments, “There is not enough recruitment of new hunters to make up the losses.” He goes on to suggest that requiring hunting safety course of 10-16 hours long is excessive and keeps new hunters from obtaining their licenses. He is clearly grasping at straws. If somebody won’t sit for three or four sessions of instruction then he or she is clearly not motivated.

Robinson goes on to say, “We must no longer tread on eggshells around agencies and officials who are clearly hostile toward hunting and hunters.” The NRA has been politically one of the most aggressive and bullying lobbying groups in the country. That’s like Hitler saying “Ok – no more Mr. Nice Guy.”

He bemoans Clinton’s executive orders to keep some wilderness areas – which Bush rescinded after he was sworn in before even taking his coat off.

Robinson then goes on to mention the impact of hunters on the local economies throughout the county – but if we add in the potential economic contribution that facilities for wildlife watching would bring to the area, the impact of hunting is negative.

Another whiny report from the Fudds comes from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The revenues derived mostly from the sale of licenses are not keeping pace with the increased expense of doing business (gas prices figure into this). The PA game agency, just as the fish and game agencies all over the country, are caught between a rock and a hard place.

As the number of hunters declines, they have to raise the license fees to continue to provide even the most basic services. Yet as they raise their fees, their license sales decline. The PA Game Commission explains that a hunting license in 1985 was $12.75 – the license fee was raised to $19 in 1999, but should be raised again today to $23.19 to keep pace with the increase in expenses and the decline in the number of hunters.

“This means that, unless we have a license fee increase soon ... the long term effect will be a leaner 2006-2007 and an even leaner 2007-08 which will require additional spending cuts that will further impact our ability to deliver programs and services to the public.”

One interesting side note is that they derive $15 million in timber sales from land which the agency controls. This amounts to about one-third of their annual budget.

Who owns that land - the agency or the state? If the state owns the land, those revenues belong to the General Fund and should not go into the Conservation Fund for more hunting. We should really take a close look at land-grabs by and for Fish and Game agencies – if for no other reason than to bolster their flagging revenues from timber sales.

The PA Game Commission also started a not-for-profit 501(c)3 “educational” organization to which tax-deductible contributions can be made. Again the legality of that move is highly dubious.

We need to keep a close eye on how monies from that 501c(3) are sloshed over into PA Game agency.

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Anne Muller - President

 

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