John Maxwell/Indiana DNR
A critical link exists between hunting and wildlife conservation. From all measures, the user-pays system of wildlife conservation in North America has more than fulfilled the dreams of its early founders. However, that system is showing signs of wear. Hunting license sales are generally in decline nationwide, which has consequences for long-term conservation efforts. Those consequences could potentially impact not just funding and political support for wildlife conservation, but important parts of the American fabric of life and rural culture.
With the support of hunters, current populations of game species have been restored to abundant levels. These populations now provide the foundation for millions of days of hunting recreation, millions of pounds of high quality food and billions of dollars in economic activity. But what about tomorrow? What will happen if hunters are no longer available to provide this vital support to long-term wildlife conservation?