To the editor:
A recent article raised concern over the future of hunting and fishing opportunities throughout New York due to the increasing age of the typical hunter and angler (“Declining sportsman population would hurt Conservation Fund,” 5/2). The average age of these “sportsmen” is increasing because hunting and fishing no longer appeal to the younger generation, which has shown for the most part to be uninterested in killing animals for recreation.
According to data supplied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, since 1996 the number of anglers and hunters in New York has decreased by more than 25 percent and 5 percent, respectively. This has been occurring because sportsmen who choose to interact with wildlife in violent ways are dying or otherwise dropping out of the sport faster than new hunters and anglers can be recruited. Despite the waning interest in the blood sports, nonviolent forms of outdoor recreation are becoming more popular every year; hunting and fishing have been declining in popularity as wildlife watching in the state has been showing encouraging growth.
Rather than depending on hunting and fishing to support its programs, the state DEC should look to wildlife watching as a way to raise badly needed revenue. New York’s wildlife watchers outnumber the state’s hunters and anglers combined by more than two to one, and with a little creativity on the part of the DEC these hobbyists could easily support programs to preserve and protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.
By placing a surcharge on the cost of cameras, binoculars and other equipment used by wildlife watchers, the DEC could collect more revenue than they currently pull in from the sale of weapons, ammunition and hunting/fishing licenses. With a new, secure source of funding, the DEC would no longer be tied financially to the weapons industry and could forever get out of the business of promoting violence toward wildlife. Simultaneously, federal law could be changed so that the excise taxes collected from the sale of weapons and ammunition are used to help the victims of gun violence and their families. By making these changes, both wildlife and people would benefit and we would bring about a less violent world.
To learn what you can do to help end the DEC’s dependence on violence and killing, please visit www.AbolishSportHunting.com.
Joe Miele, president
Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting