Decline in Hunting Poses Serious Threat to Conservation Efforts

Millions of Americans enjoy the great outdoors every year, but only one group puts their money where their mount is: hunters. Revenue generated from hunting licenses and taxes on guns and ammo generates approximately 60 percent of any given state’s wildlife and conservation fund.

But the number of hunters has significantly decreased over the last fifty years as more Americans move to urban and suburban areas, and that has conservationists worried, according to a recent report from National Public Radio.

“Without a change in the way we finance fish and wildlife conservation, we can expect the list of federally threatened and endangered species to grow from nearly 1,600 species today to perhaps thousands more in the future,” a panel on sustaining America’s fish and wildlife resources recently warned.

Only about five percent of Americans hunt, half the number who participated in the sport in the 1960s. That trend is expected to accelerate as Baby Boomers age out without enough youngsters to take their place. NPR cites urbanization, restricted access to hunting areas, and the rise of video games and all-consuming youth sports as reasons for the lack of interest in hunting amongst younger generations.

(Graph: NPR)

State budgets are already strapped for money, and it’s tough to convince legislators to push for new taxes and fees to fund wildlife conservation. But hunters already open their pocketbooks to protect wildlife, so many efforts have focused on renewing interest in the sport.

One such organization in Wisconsin recruits and trains new hunters by reaching out to less traditional hunting demographics. NPR interviewed first-time hunter Beth Wojcik, a graduate student who doesn’t fit the standard hunting mold.

“I’m actually a vegetarian,” she admitted. “Studying wildlife ecology, though, I gained a better understanding of how we’re managing wildlife, and hunting is an effective way to do that.”

(Graph: NPR)

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) told us via email that they’re also working at the state and local levels to give hunters more access to the land they need.

SEE ALSO: Killing in the Name of Conservation: How Big Game Hunting Prevents Extinction

NSSF is working with Congress to push through the Making Public Lands Public Act. This initiative would ensure that a portion of funds are permanently made available from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for land acquisition to ensure the public has access to the more than 38 million acres of isolated public lands either through ownership of private properties or geographic boundaries.

At the state level, the NSSF has been working to expand Sunday Hunting, and they recently secured victories in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.

The NSSF’s focus on the hunting community is well-founded.  But that still may not be enough to right the ship.  The non-gun owning public may need to start chipping in.

“We all value the resource to different degrees,” Jim Wipperfurth, who volunteers in Wisconsin’s outreach program, told NPR. “We put our money where our mouth is, we’re involved. But for the general public, to get them to spend the money is the difficult part.”

They may value it in their mind, he says, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to spend a dollar on it.

NPR did not address the elephant in the room.  The war on hunters and the demonization of gun owners as a contributing factor to the decline in hunting.  “Guns are evil,” so says Hollywood, the media, Dems in Washinton, educators, corporate elites, activists groups and on and on.  So, it should come as no surprise that young people are increasingly reluctant to exercise their 2A rights.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • bbbs53 March 31, 2018, 1:02 pm

    I wouldn’t believe a word NPR says. They are lying libtards. Someone needs to get the stats from a RELIABLE source.

  • mrpski March 30, 2018, 9:10 pm

    I read all of these comments with much sadness but having been in all of the US at one time or another know that these stories are sad but true. I have lived in the State of Arizona for 38 years and one of the main reasons is the huge amount of public land and the abundance of big game. I say that with regret however, as the public lands are getting more and more restricted, the tags going much of the time to others than local sportsman, and of course the cost of EVERYTHING getting beyond what Joe the plumber can afford if he is fortunate enough to get drawn. To be honest, if I was not qualified to hunt on our states many military reservations then I probably would have quit. There are just to many people out there who just want to fill their tag and the hell with everyone else. So, I am lucky in many ways to still live and hunt where I do. I am an old guy with a pioneer hunting license good for the rest of my life. I plan on living a long time hope I get to use it until the year I pass on.

  • JOHN T. FOX March 30, 2018, 3:22 pm


  • Michael K. March 30, 2018, 11:19 am

    Amen Dwight R.! I live in SW Idaho and it is the same here – hunting is becoming a rich mans game and if you cant pay – you cant play! I just spent over $10,000.00 on a duck boat because there is no private land to hunt anymore without paying for a hunting lease which most “farmers” are charging between $10 -$15 thousand per year for a hunting lease. And public land, forget about it – incredibly over crowded and hunted. So i had to spend a lot of money to play – i am lucky that I have a good paying job and can afford it – but i feel bad for those that cant.

    • JOHN T. FOX March 30, 2018, 3:26 pm


  • joefoam March 30, 2018, 10:35 am

    Yet, the environmentalists and animal rights groups celebrate not hunting, allowing the herds and flocks to die off due to mismanagement and allowing vermin and invasive species to flourish.

    • JOHN T. FOX March 30, 2018, 3:26 pm


  • Dwight R March 30, 2018, 8:37 am

    I grew up on a farm in Rural ND and hunted since I was 12 years old. (I am now 62 years old) Most of the farms were small, 640 – 1000 acres and the farmer lived on the land in which he loved and cared for very well and enjoyed the wildlife on the land, Thus he left a lot of the wildlife habitat alone. For the most part I hunted on land that was owned by people that I called my neighbors and if you respected his land the farmer allowed you to hunt. We seen very few hunters that we did not know. No hunting signs were a rare sight and when you seen one you only had to stop at the farm just down the road and ask. Now days the small farmer has for the most does not exist, virtually all land is posted. Many farms are 10,000 acres or more, the farmer does not live on the land but in town and the hunting signs just say no hunting with out a name or address on them and when you try to find the land owner you end up finding a land manager that could care less about you as a neighbor. Wildlife habitat is has been destroyed wholesale so that large machines can farm the land fence row to fence row with maximum production being the only consideration. Wildlife habitat is not a concern unless the land can be used for leased hunting as even more income. Hunting has become a rich mans game. When I was young hunting was used by the father to teach the next generation responsibility and love for the land. Farming was a life style but not anymore it is just another business. I am surprised that some wildlife actually exists with all the chemical that is sprayed on the land, chemical that requires use of protective clothing to apply or severe injury may result and wildlife have to live in that environment. The people in the US wanted cheap food, the government provided the cheap food but it came at a big expense to wildlife and hunting.

  • Douglas Pope March 30, 2018, 8:25 am

    Because of the liberal legal system , liberal judges and attorneys. Many private property owners who use to welcome hunters have closed their lands to hunters , because of the possibility of a law suit after allowing someone to hunt . Florida is the perfect example of that . Everyone complains about the damage pigs do to properly including crops . In 5 years of asking permission to hunt. I have been unable to find anyone that will allow me on their property . I have quit asking. It has become a pay to hunt situation. It doesn’t matter if it’s Florida , South Dakota , Iowa if you want to hunt you are forced to pay . The states are no help either , the outrageous cost for non-resident hunting licenses has forced many people to quit hunting.

    • True Believer April 1, 2018, 9:24 pm

      @DougyPope…..Newsflash Genius…99% of these farms you supposedly asked permission to hunt on are owned by conservative REPUBLICANS…. Liberal Farmers….???? Stop being a dumbass. Stop blaming “liberals” for Republican Greed…

  • DB March 30, 2018, 8:09 am

    It’s not just pot growers. In my experience, many hunters in rural areas act like they own public lands. I’ve had several bizarrely aggressive encounters with other hunters on public lands where the message was essentially “these are our woods – get out”. Scary situation when everyone is armed. I’ve also had my truck vandalized as well.

    So adding to the cost, I’m now limited to private lands where I have to pay to hunt. However, it’s a more controlled environment and much safer (a big concern when I take my boys).

    As with my experience at many ranges, we – as shooters and hunters – can be our own worst enemies as far as attracting new people to our terrific sport. For every positive interaction I have with new folks, I witness some multiple of needless negative interactions. We’re involved in other activities (Scouting, sports, etc.) and the overall attitude and outreach to new people is far better.

  • True Believer March 29, 2018, 12:35 pm

    One needs look no further than the cost of what’s required to legally hunt and fish these days to explain the numbers quoted here….States decided decades ago to turn shooting sports into their own private cash cow and Hunter’s and Fishermen have been paying for it ever since. In America our so called “public lands” have once again become the King’s Forrest and the only one’s allowed to play there are those willing to pony up the King’s Tax to do so…25 years ago, in Nebraska, a combination hunting/fishing license cost $35.00. Today, it’s over $100.00, with additional taxes in the form of habitat stamps and state park access fees…Boat licenses, property taxes, and everything else associated with these activities have followed suit…To make matters worse, bag limits have shrunk and the quality of game opputunities have degraded with more and more regulations and eager game wardens salivating to write as many tickets as possible for the smallest infraction, it borders on harrasment…Today it’s very easy to drop upwards of $1000.00 a year on just the basics…The number of people able and willing to drop that level of cash is shrinking almost by the day..

    The Salary for a first year Conservation Officer averages in the high 5 figure range with supervisor salaries in the 6 figures and the States can’t hire them fast enough.. Until people boycott these agencies by not buying licence’s for a few years the trend will continue. That includes boycotting fishing equipment and shooting supplies until these agencies wither and die from lack of funding…The question is, who among us is willing to put their guns and fishing poles away for the decade or so required to turn this around? I’m betting the number is a flat ZERO…We are the last generation…Our children and grandchildren will only know about hunting and fishing by reading about it in outdated books and magazines…God help us…

  • Mark March 28, 2018, 8:26 pm

    Also, lets not forget that Game Wardens are assholes looking to write tickets for any tiny bs “violation”. Just watch the show “Wild Justice”. So many folks with less money these days than previous generations just say, “forget it” and stay home.

  • Bobs your uncle March 28, 2018, 7:18 pm

    Guns are evil and people that use guns for any purpose are evil, isn’t that the message thats being delivered on a daily, no, hourly basis. about thirty years ago I noticed that some of the best hunting areas were being overtaken by pakalolo growers, abundant water and forage was great for wildlife but also whats needed to grow weed. I’ve been told there are areas in northern California where its not safe to stop your car and take a leek, you might get shot by a grower protecting his crop.If you were out hunting and happened on to a grow you might be confronted by a citizen from another country armed and willing to kill you. Mostly it gets back to underfunded enforcement that are too lazy to come up with viable solution. Wasn’t there a story about DOW busting some wine grower that killed a big deer on his property? really? thats whats passing for enforcement? The State and Federal lands have become too dangerous to hunt and access to these lands is limited to a very small group. My guess is most State and Federal agency’s don’t really give a shit, in their defense you have to look at the sheer size of the task, 55% of the state federally and state owned, Idaho is something like 85% And now you have environmental, political,criminal, all fighting for control of these public lands, who’s fighting for the average hunter? no one, eh, maybe the NRA a little

  • Sepp W March 27, 2018, 7:45 pm

    We’ve evolved from hunters and gatherers to sedentary lifestyles filling our gullets with processed foods obtained from grocery stores.

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