WHERE DOES CONSERVATION FUNDING COME
The management (or conservation) programs of state fish and
wildlife agencies, like the Mississippi Department of Wildlife,
Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) involves many different people
actively working to ensure the well-being of hundreds of species of
birds, mammals, fish, and other animals (game and non-game alike)
on millions of acres of land and water.
As you might imagine, managing our state's wildlife and habitat
can be expensive, with millions of dollars invested each year.
Here, the hunter enters the picture because, unlike other
agencies in state government, these MDWFP programs receive little
support from taxes paid by the general public. Instead, the
majority of its operating funds come from hunters and
anglers. Our hunters and anglers pay, as they have for many
years, nearly all the bills for on-the-ground wildlife conservation
and support them, not to benefit themselves, but to benefit all
The North American Model of Wildlife
During the first half of the 20th century, leaders
like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold helped shape a set of
ideals that came to be known as the North
American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The foundation
of this philosophy is that all wildlife belong to all of us and
that every citizen is entitled to the opportunity to hunt and fish.
These leaders understood very early that ethical, regulated
hunting is indeed the driving force that maintains abundant
wildlife, both in Mississippi and throughout North America.
The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is widely
considered the world's most successful system of management.
Its principles restore and safeguard fish, wildlife, and their
habitats through sound science and active management.
A strong hunting and fishing tradition is the unique cornerstone
of the North American Model, with sportsmen and women serving as
the foremost funders of conservation. Through self-imposed
excise taxes on hunting, shooting, archery, and angling equipment,
and a tax on boating fuels, these consumer/conservationists have
generated more than $45 billion for wildlife and habitat
conservation since 1937 in America.
Though sportsmen-funded conservation efforts have focused on
wildlife that is hunted and fished, sound management emphasizes
restoring and conserving habitats that benefit a wide range of fish
and wildlife, including non-hunted species, as well as benefiting
everyone who enjoys nature.
Currently, there are no alternative, stable, and dedicated
funding mechanisms in place (beyond excise taxes and license fees)
to support fish and wildlife conservation in Mississippi. Without
traditional outdoor users' continued contributions or new funding
streams, America's conservation legacy could be in peril.
License Fees & Excise Taxes
Dating as far back as the 1920's, America's sportsmen and women
and outdoor industry have selflessly contributed the lion's share
for conservation. Through license fees and special excise
taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, they currently contribute
more than $4.7 million each day for the benefit of wildlife.
The knowledge of how this money is gathered and how it spent
contributes greatly to an understanding of the overall conservation
picture, and the hunter's important place in it.
License fees make up the largest portion of the sportsman's
contributions to America's state fish and wildlife agencies,
presently furnishing them with more than $1.1 billion per year and
over $17 million in Mississippi alone. Excise taxes on hunting and
fishing equipment now generate $882 million per year, with
Mississippi's share at $11.4 million.
Because of the many ways license fees are used for the benefit
of all wildlife, the purchase of a hunting license-whether by a
hunter or even a non-hunter-is one of the best investments
that can be made, today, for conservation.
Sometimes, a license or permit contributes directly to a species
or habitat. The best example is state and federal waterfowl
stamps, which all waterfowl hunters are required to buy.
Revenue from duck stamps is used by state and federal governments
to manage waterfowl habitat. Again, the hunter's contribution
goes beyond game species, because the land purchased or the habitat
that is managed is also home to many non-game species that thrive
in similar conditions.
Text courtesy of the National Shooting Sports
Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation