Hunting and wildlife conservation go hand in hand

Dec. 27, 2012

deer and thank you huntersFall and winter are wonderful times to get out to enjoy nature and to see wildlife! Birds are migrating and can sometimes be seen in big flocks. Drive by a cut-down corn field and you'll see the huge, prehistoric sandhill crane. Different types of birds will be passing through your bird feeder. And many animals are getting in their last big meals before winter. Then once the snow falls, the woods get quiet and signs of wildlife can be seen if you just look close - tracks in the snow, small birds like the dark-eyed junco and downy woodpecker flitting around. It's really a magical time to be out in the woods.

This is also the time of year hunters are out in the woods - they too are enjoying the sights and sounds of nature and wildlife. Watching a mouse run over their boot as they sit still as a tree. Watching a white-breasted nuthatch poking its way down a tree looking for bugs. Communing with nature is a huge draw for hunters. So as another hunting season winds down, it's a good time to look at the important role hunting plays in conserving Michigan's wildlife - for all wildlife species, not just the ones that are hunted.

How does hunting contribute to wildlife conservation? Hunters help conserve and manage wildlife in three ways:

  1. Hunting is an important management tool. For many wildlife species, hunting helps to maintain populations at levels compatible with human activity, land use and available habitat. For example, hunting helps limit deer browse in agricultural areas and deer-car collisions. Hunting may also help your garden from getting eaten by deer.
  2. Hunters pay for the bulk of wildlife conservation across the country through the Pittman-Robertson Act, or PR. Established in 1937, this act created an excise tax on guns, ammunition, bows, arrows and other hunting-related equipment. This money is then apportioned to state wildlife agencies based on the land area and the number of licensed hunters of each state. These funds are matched by state hunting license fees. PR ensures that money from hunting license sales can only be used for wildlife management – for projects such as conducting research, wildlife reintroductions and improving wildlife habitat. These projects benefit a wide range of species, including animals that aren't hunted. In Michigan, hunters pay for approximately 80 percent of the Department of Natural Resources' wildlife management.
  3. Hunters have banded together in local sportsmen's clubs and national organizations to raise funds for conservation, buy and conserve private lands for wildlife habitat, partner with state and federal agencies on large-scale conservation, and lobby for laws and policies that benefit wildlife. Groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever support and conduct conservation and restoration efforts across a wide range of habitats, throughout Michigan and the country.

So thank a hunter you know for helping to conserve wildlife for all of Michigan's citizens!

How can you help?
There are several easy ways you can help conserve wildlife in Michigan:

With increased funding to the Nongame Wildlife Fund, we can boost our efforts to conserve and manage Michigan's wildlife. Join us in protecting the natural, wild and wonderful things that make MiNature.