Hunting has incorrectly been accused of being out of date, irrelevant to conservation or an anachronism no longer needed or acceptable. Some state and federal agency personnel have lost sight of the importance of hunting to conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Recent developments in one particular organization, Ducks Unlimited (DU), demonstrate conclusively the relevance and indispensable role of hunters. Analysis discloses that DU is annually generating more conservation funds than the highly acclaimed Pittman-Robertson Fund! Ducks Unlimited and the Pittman-Robertson Act (P-R) have both recently celebrated their 60th anniversaries. DU is a sportsmen's nonprofit conservation organization, and P-R is a conservation fund created directly by Congress. DU is funded largely by waterfowl hunters and has generated $1.2 billion. P-R is funded with excise taxes on all firearms and ammunition and has generated $3 billion. This 3 to 1 ratio is no longer representative of the enormous conservation contribution sportsmen are making through DU, however. This year, DU announced the most visionary conservation plan of the century. It is campaigning to raise $600 million in the next few years alone under HABITAT 2000. That is more than $150 million additional revenue for conservation each year. In the first months of the campaign it has raised $262 million towards the $600 million fundraising goal. That is approximately $75 million more than expected to be generated in P-R funds this year ($165.2 million).
The DU sum so far this year is a higher sum than the record year for P-R funds, $225 million, when revenue from that excise tax on firearms and ammunition leaped in response to record sales that followed the passage of the "Brady Bill." To fully appreciate the enormity of the DU contribution to conservation, just take into account that P-R funds on average are approximately one-fourth of the size of the sum of all state conservation budgets each year. DU has conserved eight million acres of waterfowl habitat and has 604,000 members.
The goal of HABITAT 2000 is to conserve a total of nine million acres and increase its membership to 750,000. I bet they do it. They may be the US hunter's brightest conservation star. That is reflective of the incentive and commitment of American sportsmen to conservation of our natural resources. DU's contribution provides prospective about the value of having incentives and committed stakeholders like hunters in wildlife conservation.