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C.A.S.H. Letters

KS - Hunting in Decline

To the Wichita Eagle (KS) to letters@wichitaeagle.com

09/09/07

To The Editor:

If they could read The Eagle, wildlife would be celebrating the news that participation in hunting and fishing has been declining nationwide. While some attribute the decline to people not being as “outdoorsy” as they used to be, others are coming to the realization that violence disguised as recreation is nonetheless violence and as such is wholly unacceptable. As Shakespeare said "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

As the interest in hunting wanes, non-violent wildlife watching has become the dominant form of wildlife-related outdoor recreation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports in its 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation that over 71 million people spent time observing, feeding and photographing wildlife last year nationwide, outdistancing the interest in hunting which saw only 12.5 million participants in that same time period. In Kansas more than twice as many people participated in wildlife watching than hunting.

The time has come to change the way the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and all state hunting agencies do business by halting the cycle of managing wildlife populations solely to benefit hunters at the expense of wildlife, habitat and biodiversity. Let’s replace the taxes on weapons, ammunition and hunting/fishing equipment and with similar taxes on outdoor-related equipment such as binoculars, backpacks, and cameras used by wildlife watchers. Funds collected from these alternate taxes can be dedicated toward the protection and preservation of wildlife and the areas where they live, making the need to depend on hunting, weapons and violence obsolete. To protect wildlife and the areas where they live please visit www.wildwatch.org.

Joe Miele, Vice President
Wildlife Watch, Inc.


Wichita Eagle - Sunday, Sep 9, 2007

Hunting numbers decline
BY DAVID CRARY
Associated Press

New figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show that the number of American hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 -- from 14 million to about 12.5 million. The drop was most acute in New England, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific states, which lost 400,000 hunters in that span.

Kansas showed a decrease of about 5 percent in that time, from 291,000 to 277,000.

The primary reasons for the national decline, experts say, are the loss of hunting land to urbanization plus a perception by many families that they can't afford the time or costs that hunting entails.

In many states, urbanization has replaced once great habitat.

"We hear concerns about land access," Judy Stokes, New Hampshire Fish and Game spokeswoman, said. "People grew up hunting -- you went out with your family, your uncle. And now you go back, and there's a shopping plaza or a housing development. Some of your favorite places just aren't available anymore."

Indeed, hunting remains vibrant in many rural states -- 19 percent of residents 16 and older hunted last year in Montana and 17 percent in North Dakota. About 12 percent of Kansans 16 and older hunted, compared with 1 percent in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Nationally, 5 percent of the 16-and-over population hunted in 2006, down from 7 percent in 1996.

Political support for hunting remains strong, though, with several states recently enshrining the right in their constitutions.

Last month, President Bush ordered all federal agencies that manage public lands to look for more room for hunting.

Public support for hunting also is high, in part because huge deer populations have become a nuisance in many areas. Duda's surveys indicate less than 25 percent of Americans oppose hunting, although groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals denounce it as cruel.

However, hunting groups and state wildlife agencies are striving to reverse the decline by recruiting new hunters. Many states, Kansas included, offer weekends only for children and reserve prime public areas in an attempt to get more kids into the sport.

Rob Sexton, a vice president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, said one upside of the shrinking numbers is that hunting groups are more motivated to seek remedies, such as access to more land and less burdensome regulations.

"There are still a lot of us," he said. "Hunting is a great passion for our people."

Contributing: Michael Pearce of The Eagle.

2007 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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