Does Trophy Hunting Actually Aid Conservation? Cont'd

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader stands up for hunting in the face of these earlier readers:

I am probably unique in that I am an avid Radiolab listener as well as an avid hunter. (I even went to a live taping in Seattle.) As was stated in that podcast, it is difficult to articulate the draw that hunters have to hunting.

It is the outdoors, the challenge, family memories, etc. While others may find this distasteful, the conservation numbers cannot be disputed. Even in our country we have more of most big game species than a century ago and that is almost entirely due to the Pittman-Robertson Act and license fees. Please show me a country with a well-developed hunting system that doesn’t have a stable to thriving wildlife population.

The crux of Pittman-Robertson:

Every time you purchase a new rifle, handgun, shotgun, bow, arrows or ammunition, 10 percent of that sale goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where the funds are redistributed back to the state fish and wildlife agency for conservation efforts. Perhaps no other effort shows the profound effect of the Pittman-Robertson act in Nebraska than the reintroduction of wild turkey. Once extinct in Nebraska, the wild turkey is one of the most sought-after game species in the state.

Nationwide, other saved populations include “white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, wood duck, beaver, black bear, giant Canada goose, American elk, desert bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain lion, and several species of predatory birds.”