VIRGINIA’S hunting season is entering the “full speed ahead” phase for 2020. Archery seasons are underway for deer and bear with early muzzleloader season for deer beginning in a couple weeks. Fall turkey seasons begin this weekend in many counties across the commonwealth. Seasons for some migratory birds and small game species are open or opening soon. So far, Virginians are fortunate to enjoy abundant hunting opportunities. And those opportunities represent good things for conservation and our wildlife species. As we’ve noted many times, hunters and anglers are the people largely paying for wildlife conservation in the United States. License fees and funds apportioned to each state by the federal government provide most of the financial resources used by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Of the nearly $602 million apportioned this year, Virginia received nearly $11 million, as well as another million in wildlife grant funding. Since its passage in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act has raised more than $8 billion for conservation. Passed at the behest of hunters, it places an excise tax on firearms, ammunition and other sporting equipment
Hunting, though, remains under attack in many quarters. Bear hunting may soon disappear, again, from New Jersey and a senate bill in California that would have prevented people from possessing or importing 13 lawfully hunted African species narrowly failed. Hunting bans or emotion-based restrictions do nothing for wildlife but diminish their value and economically hurt local communities that benefit from hunters traveling to their areas in pursuit of specific species. Beyond that, there is an entire economic ripple effect, related to travel expenses and that excise-tax generating equipment and gear. Africa, in particular, is often targeted for various hunting bans and restrictions, much to the detriment of local economies and communities there. Hunters have many resources they can tap to ensure they speak with facts when countering antihunting efforts. Among them is a new “Hunt the Facts” campaign (safariclub.org/huntthefacts) by Safari Club International.
The facts available at the SCI website highlight how hunters worldwide protect habitat and wildlife conservation while offering tangible benefits to the communities and countries where they hunt. [full article]