Wildlife Conservation Groups Driving Efforts to Recruit New Hunters

by Jennifer Shea

Many people think of hunters and conservation groups as two parties on opposing sides. But in Pennsylvania, conservation groups are behind efforts to recruit, keep and bring hunters back to the sport.

Conservation Is Funded By Hunters

In Pennsylvania and many other states, wildlife management efforts get their money from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and taxes on guns and ammunition. And those revenues had been falling until recently, the Keystone State News Connection reports.

It’s a problem nationwide. In Pennsylvania, for example, hunting-derived funds comprise over half of the state Game Commission’s budget. 

The National Wildlife Federation has been trying to increase the number of women who hunt and fish through a project called Artemis. Aaron Kindle is director of sporting advocacy at the NWF. He told the Keystone State News Connection that besides providing funding, hunters and anglers can offer key perspective on habitat.

“Hunters and anglers see the effects of management on the ground,” he said. “And they also see the effects of changing climate and changing landscapes, maybe more acutely than anyone.”

Kindle said the NWF is also pushing Congress to raise federal funding for conservation efforts. They want legislators to start by passing the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act bill into law.

Keeping People Involved in the Great Outdoors

In Pennsylvania, the Game Commission is actively working to get more people to start or resume hunting. Samantha Pedder, director of operations for the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, said the fate of conservation depends on it. 

“The lower the number of people participating, the lower funds derived to fund conservation,” Pedder said. “So, the loss of a hunter on the landscape is detrimental to conservation in Pennsylvania.” 

Some of their successes include easing a state ban on Sunday hunting and launching mentored hunting expeditions for young people and women.

“The agency, and partners like [the NWF] and the Artemis program, have done a lot to try to revisit how hunting occurs in the state,” Pedder said. “[It’s] to keep people active and give them more time to be outdoors.”