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September 2, 2009

Obama Hates Bambi . . .


That's the conclusion—we believe tongue in cheek—of Newsweek's Steve Tuttle when he misconnects the recent surge in firearms and ammunition sales—due to fears that the Administration will push for new restrictions on gun ownership—to somehow aiding deer hunters in their pursuit of game. "The deer don't stand a chance," says Tuttle, in his article.

Tuttle gets the background right when he says that the surge in firearms and ammunition sales over the past year has been a windfall for wildlife conservation. The 1937 Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid In Wildlife Restoration Act imposed an excise tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition, with the funds generated being routed back to the states to underwrite wildlife conservation and habitat preservation projects. Firearms and ammunition manufacturers paid about $110 million in the first quarter of 2009, a 43 percent increase from the same period a year ago due to the surge in sales. That’s more money for conservation. More than $5 billion has been raised for conservation since Pittman-Robertson legislation went into effect 72 years ago. Thankfully, these funds "can't be diverted to other uses," otherwise federal legislators and bureaucrats almost certainly would have diverted them, as some states have tried to, with the result that wildlife populations in America today would not be as healthy or widespread as they are.

Despite the writer's quip that “the deer don’t stand a chance,” deer and other game species are doing quite well under America's hugely successful system of wildlife management, a model emulated around the world. This system is responsible for increasing white-tailed deer populations in America from about 500,000 around the turn of the last century to over 26 million today. No one is unhappy with that except perhaps the victims of car vs. deer accidents or the owners of munched on shrubs in their suburban yards. Similar conservation successes are connected with the wild turkey, Rocky Mountain Elk, wood duck and other game species, benefiting nature watchers and hunters alike. Are there more opportunities for hunters to take deer and to put healthful food on their tables and on the tables of those less fortunate through programs like Hunters for the Hungry? Yes, there are, and there's nothing wrong with that.