Who Pays for American Wildlife? Not Hunters
Nevada’s wildlife commission has nine members: five hunters, two farmers, one conservationist, and one representative for the general public. That’s not a typo: even though only 2% of Nevadans hunt, hunters are given a majority of seats on the commission that decides most wildlife policy, from how to protect endangered species to how to educate the public on conservation.
Why should hunters control wildlife policy? Some say that hunters fund most wildlife spending, and therefore deserve to make policy.
But this study strongly disagrees with that premise, ultimately finding instead that the non-hunting public funds 94% wildlife management in the United States, while hunters pay for a mere 6%.
The authors explain that funding for wildlife management comes from two main sources: the federal government, and non-profits. In both areas, non-hunters contribute far more money than hunters do.
Government Wildlife Spending
The federal government accounts for 88% of American wildlife conservation and management spending. Most government money comes from general taxes like income and corporate tax, which are paid roughly equally by all Americans. About 4% of Americans hunt annually, meaning that about 4% of federal taxes are paid by hunters.
Some federal conservation money comes from excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear (guns, ammunition, boats, boat fuel, etc.) specifically earmarked for use in wildlife management, but the impact of these funds on the overall budget is small. The authors estimate that these taxes only cover 4% of federal wildlife expenses. Further, hunters pay only 14% of these excise taxes. Instead, buyers of non-hunting guns and non-fishing boats pay most of these taxes that fund wildlife management.
The study notes that because most state wildlife spending comes from federal money, it is safe to conclude that the breakdown is similar on the state level.
In sum, the study finds that hunters fund a mere 5% of federal wildlife spending.
The study’s methodology and data sources for non-profit spending are unclear. Faunalytics therefore does not endorse this part of the study and will not report its findings.
83% of all wildlife and conservation spending in the US comes from the federal government’s general budget, funded equally by all Americans. Though the question of who funds non-profit wildlife spending is still open, requiring further research, it is clear that government spending dwarfs non-profit efforts. A simple conclusion is therefore evident: hunters fund very little of America’s wildlife conservation efforts, and deserve no privileged influence over conservation policy.