Funding Conservation & Recreation
Hunting and fishing have a long history in Indiana. Hoosiers have contributed to conservation since the first hunting license was sold in 1901.
With future generations in mind, regulated hunting and fishing was established to protect fish and wildlife species from being overharvested.
Ever since, proceeds generated from licenses, including habitat and fish stamps, have gone directly into managing those species and their habitats, furthering conservation and recreation. The success of conserving our natural resources would not have been possible without this user-pay, everyone-benefits model, which remains in effect today. In addition to licenses, an excise tax on various hunting and fishing equipment is dedicated solely to the conservation of fish and wildlife. Taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment, boat engines, and motorboat fuel are collected for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The WSFR program began in 1937. WSFR has distributed more than $21 billion across the nation for the conservation of fish and wildlife species and their habitats, and associated recreational opportunities. Indiana has received more than $350 million, including almost $16 million in 2019 alone.
The funds have helped the DNR acquire more than 21,500 acres of public-use land since 2010. Notable acquisitions in 2017-2018 that benefit both wildlife and recreation include 1,048 acres added to Fairbanks Fish & Wildlife Area in Sullivan County and 292 acres within the Healthy Rivers INitiative, which helps to protect the Wabash and Muscatatuck river watersheds.
The DNR recently partnered with state universities in order to address critical research needs for two of Indiana’s most predominant wildlife species, white-tailed deer and Canada geese. DNR and Purdue University are developing an innovative deer management approach that uses biological, social, and ecological information. In a different project, DNR, along with Franklin College and Ball State University, will assess the effects of urban Canada geese population control. Both research projects will improve management of these species for the public.
The DNR recently opened two shooting ranges to enhance customer experience — a new facility at Deer Creek Fish & Wildlife Area in Putnam County and a renovated range at Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area in Newton County. Both facilities feature multiple target ranges and a pro shop, and are staffed with an on-site safety officer.
The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife relies on the revenue generated from these dedicated funding programs. License sales and WSFR funds currently contribute about 87 percent of the division’s funding. In total, roughly 96 percent of all funding for the division is from sources exclusively for fish and wildlife resources.
The majority of funds are generated from hunting and fishing activities, but the conservation programs benefit everyone. Everything from viewing sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area, to receiving habitat assistance from a wildlife biologist on your private property, to launching a canoe at a public access site, and more is supported by funds from licenses and WSFR funds.
Recreation related to fish and wildlife (including wildlife watching) is a $1.7 billion industry in Indiana that benefits businesses and contributes to the quality of life that Hoosiers desire.
Support from hunters and anglers is critical to sustaining healthy fish and wildlife populations and to providing recreational opportunities for current and future generations of Hoosiers.