It’s not uncommon to hear the future of this or that is in doubt because participants are aging out of the activity and not enough new blood is coming in.
Hunting is one example. As noted on Pg. 41, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports hunting participation has declined 18 percent nationally over the last 35 years.
The drop in Indiana is even steeper – 24 percent fewer license buyers today than in 1982.
Long-term trends like this may paint a gloomy picture, but there are signs of a significant turnaround. Indiana license buyers have increased 17 percent since bottoming out in 2005.
It’s taken hard work by a lot of people to spark the recovery.
The DNR has stepped up with its Hoosier Outdoor Heritage Program, special hunts catering to youth and women, harvest-to-table workshops, free hunting days for youth, and creating apprentice licenses that make it easier for newcomers to enter the sport.
Groups like Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Pheasants Forever have launched their own youth initiatives.
These full-on efforts are contributing to growth in Indiana license sales, from which all revenue goes back into wildlife conservation and education.
But you can help, too.
Consider being a mentor to a novice hunter – a friend, neighbor, niece or nephew who seems interested in what you do. Commit to taking at least one newcomer hunting this year.
Welcome them into the fold so wildlife conservation and hunting have a future.
Cameron F. Clark
Director, Department of Natural Resources
As hunters, you no doubt are aware of the Pittman-Robertson Act, a piece of federal legislation that changed the face of conservation here in Indiana and across the country.
This year, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of Pittman-Robertson, which is sometimes referred to as the P-R Fund or the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
This law shifted a pre-existing excise tax on firearms and ammunition from the U.S. Treasury to the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
A companion program covering fishing and boating was added in the 1950s to create the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund, or WSFR.
WSFR funds are distributed each year to state agencies, like our Department of Natural Resources, using a formula that includes certified fishing or hunting license buyers in each state.
Since their inception, the combined programs have sent more than $18 billion to states for on-the-ground projects. Indiana’s share tops $300 million, with $16.5 million coming our way in 2016.
Our DNR uses these funds to restore and manage wildlife habitat, deliver hunter education programs and research projects, operate fish hatcheries, and open and maintain access to fishing, hunting and target shooting.
So, thanks to congressional leaders who years ago put these funding programs in motion. And thanks to you for playing a key role in Indiana’s conservation efforts.
Director, DNR Fish & Wildlife