NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hunters Preserving Wildlife

November 12, 2001

Wildlife in Africa could be conserved with the help of hunters, says NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. Hunters' organizations have voluntarily funded many conservation projects. And various licenses, fees and taxes on hunting and hunting equipment fund more than 90 percent of the budgets of state fish and wildlife agencies.

Hunters' dollars and efforts have paid off for wildlife. In the 1920s many wildlife populations in the United States were at historic lows, but now they are booming:

  • White-tailed deer populations had declined to approximately 300,000, wild turkey to fewer than 30,000, pronghorn antelope to only 25,000 and North American elk to 50,000; the wood duck was nearly extinct and there were fewer than 500 bison (see figure).
  • Today there are more than 20 million white-tailed deer, more than 4 million turkeys (with populations in every state but Alaska) and more than 1 million antelope and elk.
  • Wood ducks, numbering over 3 million, are the most common breeding waterfowl in the U.S., and bison number 350,000.

Individually and through organizations such as Safari Club International, big-game hunters from the United States and around the world also have worked with governments in Africa to save threatened and endangered African wildlife. Hunters, private landowners and even tribes and villages have worked together to establish wildlife conservancies in several countries.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Hunters: Founders and Leaders of Wildlife Conservation," Brief Analysis No. 377, November 12, 2001, NCPA.

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