From Crain’s Detroit:
- Hunting licenses are on the decline, with nearly 125,000 fewer hunting licenses sold in Michigan since 2013
- DNR relies on license fees to fund conservation effortsLoss of revenue has led state
- DNR to cancel five wildlife conservation programs slated to begin this year and freeze hiring
For the past 20 years, more and more Michigan hunters have laid down their weapons and the state’s youth haven’t picked them up.
Since 2013, nearly 125,000 fewer hunting licenses have been sold in the state, according to data from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The decline is part of national trend. Only about 5 percent of Americans hunt. In the late 1960s, that figure was more than 10 percent, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The decline has big consequences for many parts of Michigan’s outdoor economy. Meanwhile other outdoor activities, such as birdwatching, hiking and kayaking, are rapidly growing, upending a model for conservation funding that relies on fees paid by hunters and anglers.
The decline is a crisis for wildlife and conservation agencies, including the Michigan DNR, whose reliance on licensing fees and a federal excise tax on guns and ammunition is drying up. No more blaze orange in the fields, no more green cash in the coffers.