There's good news and bad news regarding the lives of wild animals in the United States. The good news is that hunting is steadily declining. Ironically, the bad news is that this decline is cutting into the funding of conservation agencies that help protect wildlife.
State wildlife agencies receive about 60 percent of their funding from hunting-related fees, including hunting licenses and equipment taxes. Until recently, the system has worked well, with agencies even restoring the populations of some animals that had been hunted nearly to extinction.
However, just 5 percent of Americans are hunting these days, compared with 10 percent during the 1960s and 1970s, -- and it seems likely that this decline will continue. With such a loss, conservation agencies are looking elsewhere for money, including Congress, which could dip into gas and oil revenues to help. Some states are thinking about increasing sales taxes and collecting fees from those who appreciate wildlife as a hobby, for example people who carry binoculars instead of hunting rifles.
Hunting in the crosshairs:
- About a third of American hunters are baby boomers; most hunters hang up their guns around age 65.
- An avid hunter, President Teddy Roosevelt put in place the laws that now protect 230 million acres of land for wildlife.
- The word "sniper" originated in response to how difficult it is for a hunter to shoot a snipe, which is an alert, quick bird.