America is the home of large numbers and varieties of wild creatures. Yet, only a few decades ago, wildlife’s survival was very much in doubt. Early settlers harvested an abundance of wildlife, wiping out some species and reducing others to just a fraction of their original numbers.
Because of this, Congress passed the act known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. It was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2, 1937. This act is now administered through the Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFRP).
Since then, numerous species have rebuilt their populations and extended their ranges far beyond what they were in the 1930’s. Among them are the wild turkey, 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.
Federal Funding from WSFRP pays for up to 75 percent of project costs, with state wildlife department’s putting up at least 25 percent. A steady source of funding lets the local agencies make a lasting impact on species populations.
WSFRP has greatly aided in a nationwide effort to enlist science in the cause of wildlife conservation. About 26 percent of WSFRP funding to the States is used for surveys and research.
Surveys provide solid information on the numbers and activities of species, which helps biologists make management decisions. This includes season dates, bag limits, controlled burns, etc.
Research findings have enabled managers to keep wild creatures in balance with their environments and to permit more people to enjoy the wildlife without endangering the future of any species.
Although WSFRP is financed wholly by firearms users and archery enthusiasts, its benefits cover a much larger number of people who never hunt but do enjoy such wildlife pastimes as birdwatching, nature photography, painting and sketching and a wide variety of other outdoor pursuits.
Numerous non-game species enjoy WSFRP benefits, too. Ground cover for game birds is also used by all sorts of other birds and small animals. Bald eagles benefit significantly under careful management of forested areas where they typically nest. Fortunately, the WSFRP does not restrict use of funds to game species, but instead allows their use for any species of wild bird or mammal.
Hunter education is designed to make each hunter aware of how his/her behavior affects others. Hunters learn safe and proper handling of hunting equipment, responsible hunting and conduct afield. They also learn identification of wildlife and understanding of its habits and habitats, and respect – for the animals, and for other hunters, landowners, and the general public.