The longstanding connection between nature conservation and hunting and fishing in the US has been confirmed with the announcement of a $749 million fund for wildlife projects.
US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said that the money was coming from excise tax revenues generated by sportsmen and women and would go to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies.
''Hunters and anglers have provided the foundation for wildlife conservation in America for more than 75 years. They continue to provide dedicated, critical funding for fish and wildlife agencies across the nation, especially at a time when many state budgets are under pressure. These funds will support important fish and wildlife management and conservation, recreational boating access and hunter and aquatic education programmes.''
The money, through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration and Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration programmes, includes funds from taxes paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.
Curtis Taylor, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Section, said: ''Our partnership with America's hunting, fishing and boating community through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programmes is the cornerstone for funding fish and wildlife conservation. Fish and wildlife can be conserved, protected and restored through science-based management and this year's apportionment is critical in order for state fish and wildlife agencies to continue their work on behalf of everyone who values our nation's natural resources.''
Activities likely to benefit include the protection of herring in Rhode Island and work to tackle threats to the sturgeon population in Oregon.