Why Fewer Hunters May Mean Fewer Species in Indiana


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Why Fewer Hunters May Mean Fewer Species in Indiana

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act is being championed by some people who believe conservation needs steady federal money.

STATE WIDE--If you hear the screech of a barn owl, you're hearing one of about 140 species of animals that are either endangered or are of special concern in Indiana. A bill being sponsored by 150 representatives in Washington, D.C., may make it possible to help keep those animals from being gone forever.

Members of the Indiana Wildlife Federation traveled to Washington D.C. in November to support the Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA), which would provide a steady $1.4 billion to all states, each year, to help fund proactive conservation efforts.

The money is needed because hunting is declining, said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of the Responsive Management, a company that studies wildlife conservation and hunting and shooting habits.

"Things are changing. Hunting is declining, so we're worried about that," said Duda, a guest on Indiana Outdoors.

When people hunt, they buy permits and pay fees and part of that money goes toward funding conservation. Fewer hunters means less money and necessitates a need for money from somewhere else.

Duda said RAWA would help provide some of that money.

"In the past it used to be hunters contributing the lion share of the Federal Aid and Wildlife Restoration Act, because we would buy guns. We would buy ammo. We would buy things and thaqt money went to fish and wildlife management."

But, Duda said more people are shooting for sport and not hunting. The money from those fees and permits still partially goes to fund conservation. But, because they shoot and don't hunt, the money from hunting permits is no longer there, and Duda fears lawmakers who are not well-versed in conservation may divert some of the money that goes to conservation to efforts to prevent gun violence instead.

"So the question is, what do states do in the future? We always want to have that money coming in from hunters. We always want to have it coming in from anglers and trappers. But, the problems are so big that now we need to do other things and look for other sources."

Duda said he believes RAWA is at least a partial answer to that. Rep. Susan Brooks, an Indiana Republican, is a co-sponsor of the Act.

PHOTO: Dept. of Natural Resources

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