The annual duck hunting season in the United States is traditionally big business, but while bird numbers are rising faster than they have for decades, the number of hunters continues to fall. Far from being good news for ducks a new study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin shows how the loss of revenue from 'duck stamps' could result in millions of lost dollars for vital conservation work.
"The last 15 years have brought hunting opportunities not seen since the turn of the last century," said Dr Mark Vrtiska from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. "The waterfowl population has passed 40 million six times since 1995, something only seen nine times since records began. These should be the glory days for duck hunting."
However, in stark contrast, the annual sales of the 'duck stamp', the Federal licence needed to hunt, are declining. While over 2,100,000 stamps were sold annually in the 1970's, between 2004 and 2008 this declined to 1,300,000. This fall is continuing with an annual decline of 36% in duck stamp sales.
"You may think the fall in hunters would be good news for ducks, but ironically it is leading to less money for the conservation of their habitat," said Vrtiska. "Federal funding for conservation is dependent on the revenue raised by selling the duck stamps, a unique dynamic for wildlife managers in the United States. Up to 98% of money raised by the duck stamps is used to purchase or lease habitat within the National Wildlife Refuge system."
Historically the number of duck hunters has risen and fallen in relation to the number of ducks; however, over the 1990's the two became independent. To determine the impact the team estimated the amount of duck stamps which would have been sold had the relationship remained connected, both to determine the revenue loss and to estimate how much habitat could have been made available to conservationists.
"If hunter levels had kept consistent with historical trend
|Contact: Ben Norman|