US Fish and Wildlife Service recently reported that about 5% of Americans, 16 years old+, actually hunt. In 2016, 11.5 million people participated in hunting. Approximately 50% or 5.2 million were between 45 and 64 years old (1.1 million were female and 400k were Hispanic). The total number of people hunting is half of what it was 50 years ago and 2 million less than 2011 numbers. This decline is expected to accelerate in the coming years. It is bringing about an issue for nature conservation.
Through the Pittman-Robertson Act (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act), hunters fund a range of wildlife conservation programs. The act has an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, and other related equipment. This revenue is sent to state wildlife agencies to be used for wildlife conservation projects, hunter education, and access to outdoor recreation. The Pittman-Robertson Act has helped to contribute more than $14 billion to conservation since 1937. The problem is that in order to access and allocate these federal funds, states need to generate 25% on their own. Traditionally, this 25% has come from hunting license fees. With fewer hunters, it’s making it more and more difficult for states to assure funding from the Secretary of Interior.
A better glimpse into the impact of an aging hunter population:
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