Since 1937, hunters and target shooters have been the primary source of funding for wildlife conservation through license fees and an excise tax on sporting goods (made possible through the hunting and sporting arms industry). Since the 1980s, participants in hunting and the shooting sports have been declining, resulting in less funding for conservation.
If the downward participation trend continues, it will result in diminished capacity to conserve species cherished by hunters and all outdoor enthusiasts. The threat is real. But from the crucible of crisis opportunity emerges — to ensure that wildlife conservation remains fueled by hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts.
As organizations keenly interested in promoting wildlife conservation, the Wildlife Management Institute and the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports are developing an action plan to reverse the decline in participation among hunters and target shooters.
The organizations assembled a development work group of experts, representing a cross-section of agencies, conservation and shooting-sports organizations and representatives from industry, to coordinate and optimize efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts.
It will inventory current efforts, coordinate resources and develop custom tool kits for agencies, conservation organizations and industry partners. The plan will result in effective, proven strategies and tools to create more hunters and shooting sports participants, especially among non-traditional audiences.
Stakeholders who adopt the plan will increase participation among likely hunters and shooting sports participants, and see a groundswell of support from unlikely allies in the community. The action plan represents a make-or-break moment for the future of wildlife conservation. Never before have the available talents, resources, volunteers and funding been strategically aligned.
The plan is a result of a collaboration between two non-profit organizations, the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports and the Wildlife Management Institute. Both organizations recognize the role of hunters and target shooters in advocating for, and funding, the conservation of wildlife and habitat.