Conservation by the Numbers Let's start by taking a look at the cold hard numbers. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, during 2015 there were a total of 14.8 million individual license holders in the United States. (Texas hunters deserve a pat on the back, as theirs was the only state to register over 1 million licensed hunters.) These hunters purchased a total of 35.8 million licenses, stamps, tags, and permits, including both resident and non-resident. How did this measure in dollars and cents? Across the U.S., these hunters brought in over $821 million. That's nearly a billion dollars contributed to state and national efforts for wildlife conservation and research. Anglers also deserve a lot of credit. There were over 28 million paid fishing license holders purchased last year, nearly doubling the number of hunters, bringing in $686 million.
Private Hunting-Based Groups Take Conservation Even Further
Private hunting-based groups are also contributing to conservation and making massive strides, and their efforts can be measured in more than just money.
According to their website, Pheasants Forever has helped open over 180,000 acres of land for public use. These areas are now providing high-quality habitat for wildlife.
As just one example of their efforts, Ducks Unlimited has helped to reforest over 178,000 acres in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, which encompasses the Mississippi River from New Orleans to the southern tip of Illinois.
This deer-hunting organization has numerous efforts, but one of their most important is is Whitetail Watch, which helps landowners, hunters, and citizens fight the crime of illegal poaching.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Through land acquisitions, conservation easements, and real estate donations, RMEF has successfully protected over 1,700 square miles of elk habitat. It’s important to note that protected lands from these organizations don’t just help the single species. For example, the acres protected by Pheasants Forever are also excellent habitat for other birds, rodents, deer, and numerous animals.
Making a Positive Difference in Local, State, and Federal Governments Hunters also make a difference on national policy, promoting laws and regulations that maintain conservation efforts and habitats. Obviously the 821 million in legal hunting fees speaks volumes, but organizations also work to influence policy. Pheasants Forever, for one, has been crucial in promoting federal conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Conservation Title, a section of the Farm Bill.