As North America's largest waterfowl and wetland conservation organization, DU is joining the Delaware Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish in endorsing the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Alternative B proposal to raise hunting and trapping license fees as well as create a Conservation Access Pass.
Ducks Unlimited represents approximately 6,500 members in Delaware and more than 700,000 waterfowlers nationwide who rely on the professional management of our natural resources to sustain healthy populations of wildlife, provide increased access to public lands and waters, and enforce wildlife laws. It is for this reason that it's critical to ensure that sufficient funds are available to the wildlife professionals of Delaware.
Sportsmen and women have shouldered the costs of science-based fish and wildlife management in this country for more than 75 years, and are America's original conservationists. Established in 1937 by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act), a system was initiated to direct excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to a dedicated fund to be used specifically for conservation purposes.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disburses these dollars to the state fish and wildlife agencies to restore and manage wildlife habitat as well as open and maintain access for hunting and other outdoor recreation. Hunting and trapping license revenues are the main source of matching funds for these Federal grants so that state agencies to take advantage of these critical conservation dollars.
Due to the rising costs of natural resource management and predicted license revenue shortfalls of nearly $600,000, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is at risk of losing $1.8 million in fiscal year 2017 and having to implement additional cost-cutting measures that would negatively affect DU members and Delaware's sportsmen and women.
DU is supportive of the Division's wildlife program and we are committed to ensure your operating funds are sufficient to maintain Delaware's wildlife and their associated habitats healthy and available for people to enjoy.
The Division's Alternative B proposal represents a fair dispersal of fee increases across the various hunting and trapping license types including increases to the resident and non-resident waterfowl stamp, which Ducks Unlimited proudly supports. Additionally, the Conservation Access Pass will act as a cost-sharing mechanism so that non-hunting/trapping users of wildlife areas will have to start paying for the management of these resources as hunters have always done.