[mou] about wildlife funding in Minnesota
tiercel63 at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 3 08:13:15 EDT 2007
Even though Jim has asked us to reply directly to him instead of posting to the list server, due to the potentially controversial nature of this debate, I believe that this is a discussion that birders need to start getting involved in.
First off the point that Jim makes is a valid point. Hunters and fishermen are one of the main financial supports of the NWR system that many of us frequently use. Hunters and fishermen also financially support wildlife areas at a state level, such as Carlos Avery in Minnesota and Crex Meadows in Wisconsin.
While many hunters may care only about their sport and not care at all about birds or conservation, they are still paying for land that is habitat for a lot of birds that are not game birds. The main way that they do so is through the purchase of Duck Stamps. The Duck Stamp is required for people who wish to hunt waterfowl. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service 98 cents of every dollar that comes from duck stamps is used to purchase or lease wetlands for protection in the NWR system. While many of us do not agree with hunting, myself included, we have benefited from the money that hunters have put into the system.
Over the past decade the number of hunters has been steadily decreasing while the number of birders has been increasing. Most of us would view this as a good thing, however it means that there is less money coming in to purchase critical habitat that is needed for birds, and in the larger picture the planet, to survive. This is complicated by less tax money going for parks and environmental purposes and a lot of land development eating away at the small vestiges of nature that still exist in this world.
It is time for us as birders to start paying our share so that we can preserve the birds and the wildlife, and the land, and the water and the skies that we all love. Many of us, as responsible birders and environmentalists, already do help by giving money to groups like the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the National Parks Systems or others. Or we donate our time to different friends of NWR groups. This is all great but we can all help a little more by buying Duck Stamps for ourselves, I have purchased 5 so far this year. The Duck Stamp is not only a license to hunt waterfowl it is also a pass that lets you free into NWRs that charge and, as I have already expounded, it is a way for us to preserve more critical habitat.
The problem that I think that many birders have is that they associate the Duck Stamp with hunting. Those that are against hunting have a hard time buying one for that reason, I know I was in that same boat. I would like to see the Duck Stamp evolve so that it was not tied to hunting. I think that the stamps should instead be tied to the use of the land, like a passport into the NWR system and other federally protected habitat. That way everyone who wants to use the land, for birding, fishing, hunting, photography, walking, biology or whatever would all pay our share through a yearly fee which would be in the form of a Duck Stamp. At 15$ a year it should be affordable to most everyone. This money would continue to be used to purchase habitat. People who wanted to hunt or fish would need to have a stamp and purchase a hunting or fishing license which would also support the land.
Unfortunately this would take a change made by the government which is difficult to accomplish and time consuming. So for the present I think that all birders should purchase a Duck Stamp and we should start changing the image of the stamps ourselves. Who knows, maybe if we all start to view them as a sort of passport some day the government might just catch on.
If you are interested in more information about Duck Stamps here is the website.
----- Original Message ----
From: Jim Williams <two-jays at att.net>
To: MOU net <mou-net at moumn.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 2, 2007 9:19:52 PM
Subject: [mou] about wildlife funding in Minnesota
> I want to ask two questions about wildlife funding in Minnesota.
> Before you read on -- responses, should you choose to make them --
> are to be off net, to me directly, please. This is a subject some
> might find debatable, and this network is not the place for that
> debate. Thanks.
> I am working on an article for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The
> subject is the source of funds for the Minnesota Department of
> Natural Resources. Most of the money it receives comes from hunters
> and fishermen. Yet, almost all of its work impacts non-game species
> as well, including birds.
> How would you react if birders and other non-consumptive users of
> wild lands in
> Minnesota were asked to pay a share of funding needs comparable to
> that contributed by
> hunters and fishermen? (Hunters and fishermen pay license fees and,
> in some cases, purchase stamps for particular hunting privileges.
> Hunters and fishermen also pay a federal tax on certain items of
> equipment, a tax at least some of which is returned to the state
> of purchase for )
> If you feel you contribute already, how do you contribute to wildlife
> funding in Minnesota?
> The birder side of this discussion is important. I will appreciate
> your participation.
> I will not quote you directly unless I have your permission to do so.
> Jim Williams
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