Skip to main content

Wildlife Management Succumbs to Politics

Wildlife Management Succumbs to Politics
Governors try to solve states' financial woes by stealing from hunters and anglers.

Everyone is feeling the financial crunch, including state governments. Times are tough, but some politicians haven't learned that they cannot balance the budget on the backs of hunters. Hunters pay an 11 percent federal excise tax on hunting equipment, and anglers pay a similar tax on fishing tackle.

Most hunters and fishermen do not complain about paying these taxes, because the monies go into supporting their activities. Within limits, tax revenues gathered off the sales of hunting and fishing gear are returned to state wildlife agencies as a 3-to-1 match to be used for law enforcement, hunter education, and various aspects of wildlife and fish management. Hunting and fishing license monies are used for the match to get these federal monies. This is a very good system that literally keeps every state fish and wildlife agency running.

There is one very important catch here for those who want to "steal" or "borrow" license monies. The laws that created the federal excise taxes clearly state that license revenues cannot be used for anything except wildlife and fish management, and if it is "borrowed" or "taken" by state politicians, the state will lose the federal excise tax, and they will lose it forever or until all license monies are repaid.

This seems quite clear, but now that states are in financial trouble, some governors have forgotten the law. To some who are looking for an easy fix to their states' financial problems, money paid for hunting and fishing licenses looks very inviting.


That brings us to today. Clearly, some politicians don't know, or don't want to know, about the restrictions placed on states regarding the use of license revenues. In South Dakota, for example, House Bill 1002 would take $1 from every hunting and fishing license sold and use it for county road repair. (Note: Hunters and anglers already pay the same gasoline taxes that all other citizens pay for road repair. Can you say double dipping?)


Of course, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks strongly opposes this bill because that agency receives $10 million each year in federal excise taxes. If the state government grabs $1 million of the money paid for fishing and hunting licenses and channels it into road repair, Game, Fish and Parks will lose $3 million -- remember, it's a 3-to-1 match of federal-to-state dollars -- desperately needed to maintain fish and wildlife management programs.

Lest anyone think that's a blow just to programs that support hunting and fishing, think again. It's just as crippling to the management of endangered and non-game species, to hunter education, to wildlife and fish research, to habitat acquisition and improvement for all fish and wildlife. Worse yet, unless this trend is stopped now, Game, Fish and Parks could lose all $10 million of its federal excise taxes next year, the year after that… and on and on.

The political problems in Illinois are no big secret -- one governor impeached recently, and the previous governor in jail for corruption. Well, that's not the end of it. Illinois is another state that has tried to balance its state budget on the shoulders of the state's hunters and anglers. In the fall of 2008, state government took $9.25 million of hunting and fishing license monies to cover budget shortfalls.

Illinois gets about $16 million a year in federal excise taxes as part of its 3-to-1 match. Ex-Governor Blagojevich signed the bill into law that took this money, even though the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service reminded him that doing so would mean a loss of federal excise tax dollars.


Fortunately, this story has a happy ending as Illinois' new Governor, Pat Quinn, signed a bill that requires the state government to repay license monies. Quinn also has removed the unqualified head of the DNR that Blagojevich had appointed.

Then there's California. Governor Schwarzenegger wants to "borrow" $30 million of hunting and fishing license monies to help stem the $40 billion shortfall. The state would pay back the loan, with interest, by 2013. Forgive my skepticism, but politicians always pay back borrowed money, right? Fortunately, this story also has a happy ending. As sportsmen and sportswomen screamed, the legislature nixed this "loan" move at the last moment.

Other issues that affect hunting continue to make headlines. The lead-in-deer-meat scare continues, even though data show that Americans who eat venison killed with lead bullets are more than healthy. In North Dakota, soup kitchens will lose tons of donated venison because they now accept venison only from bowhunters. What a waste of much needed meat for the poor.


On a related front, the National Park Service is now calling for a ban on lead ammunition on its lands.

Strict gun laws have not deterred crime. Consider that a seven-year-old database of the gun markings from handguns (200,000 in all) has not led to any prosecutions. It doesn't work, so why are we paying for it? The good news is that Canada is giving strong consideration to canceling the totally-failed long-gun registry.

The U. S. Sportsman's Alliance reports good news and bad news about Obama cabinet appointments. The Secretary of Interior oversees the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The good news is that the new Secretary is Ken Salazar, former head of Colorado's Department of Natural Resources. While Salazar served in that position, the Humane Society of the United States gave him low ratings. That should tell you something about his good qualifications for this job.

The bad news is that Lisa Jackson, former Director of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, is now head of the Environmental Protection Agency. You might recall that Jackson was the person who led the opposition against bear hunts in New Jersey.

Finally, and perhaps most disturbing, is the fact that Dr. Cass Sunstein now heads up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is in charge of regulatory issues that pass through the White House for evaluation. Google his name and you will find lots of antihunting information on this former animal-rights professor at the Harvard University law school.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg begins the scouting process in Kentucky on his first whitetail hunt of the season.

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist sets up shop for a turkey hunt in Kansas.

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort with the newest tree saddle hunting gear and tactics.

Texas Hog and Whitetail Hunt

Texas Hog and Whitetail Hunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek sets up for some hog and whitetail hunting at Canyon Ranch in Texas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

It's important for bowhunters to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios & shot angles on the fly. Treestand Shot Selection for Bowhunters How-To

Treestand Shot Selection for Bowhunters

Tony J. Peterson

It's important for bowhunters to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios & shot angles on the...

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves.Tips for Bowhunting Predators Other Game

Tips for Bowhunting Predators

Joe Bell

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves.

Sometimes, it's a mistake to give deer too much credit for thinking.Can Whitetails Reason? Whitetail

Can Whitetails Reason?

Gene Wensel

Sometimes, it's a mistake to give deer too much credit for thinking.

A simple, classic steak and French fries duo gets a wild makeover with this Elk Venison Steak-Frites Recipe.Elk Venison Steak-Frites Recipe Recipes

Elk Venison Steak-Frites Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

A simple, classic steak and French fries duo gets a wild makeover with this Elk Venison...

See More Trending Articles

More Politics

                  









July 20, 2009 (Biloxi, MS) - The Congressional Sportsmen's FoundationCSF Launches Governors Sportsmen's Caucus Politics

CSF Launches Governors Sportsmen's Caucus

November 04, 2010

July 20, 2009 (Biloxi, MS) - The Congressional...

This bill has major implications for everyone who loves the outdoors. Find out how it affects your bowhunting opportunities!Public Lands Bill Passage A Major Win for Bowhunters Politics

Public Lands Bill Passage A Major Win for Bowhunters

Tony J. Peterson - March 18, 2019

This bill has major implications for everyone who loves the outdoors. Find out how it affects...

Wolves continue to thrive as elk numbers drop. And the elk hunting game has changed as a result.Animal-Rightists Cry Wolf Politics

Animal-Rightists Cry Wolf

Dr. Dave Samuel - November 04, 2010

Wolves continue to thrive as elk numbers drop. And the elk hunting game has changed as a...

In this lesson, “Hollywood Weapons” host and former Green Beret Terry Schappert will talk about how to transform your “go bag” of emergency essentials into a “get home bag.”Shelter in Place – ‘Go Bag' and ‘Get Home Bag' Essentials

Shelter in Place – ‘Go Bag' and ‘Get Home Bag' Essentials

Outdoor Channel Public Service Announcement - April 08, 2020

In this lesson, “Hollywood Weapons” host and former Green Beret Terry Schappert will talk...

See More Politics

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now