Pet peeve of mine: All those bird watchers, nature lovers, mountain bikers, kayakers, cross-country skiers, hikers and campers are freeloaders when it comes to wildlife and habitat management.
Back in the 1930’s, hunters then anglers petitioned Congress to enact an excise tax on their gear to be used specifically for management and enhancement of wildlife and habitat. Then along came “duck stamps,” and in many states, trout stamps, upland bird stamps, etc. The upshot being sportsmen and women, so-called “consumptive” sports participants, end up footing the bill for resources all those poseurs listed above enjoy as often (or more often) as we do. (Factoid: did you know that virtually every dollar used to buy and manage federal wildlife refuges comes from your duck stamps?)
There was an attempt in the mid-1990’s to enact a similar excise tax on hiking boots, sleeping bags, binoculars and other gear the spandex-sporters buy to help critters and their environments, but it was resoundingly drubbed by the manufacturers of those products and the very groups that purport to “support” the environment. As most of you know, their voluntary contributions are an economic drop in the ocean compared to the billions in taxes, tags, licenses and dues hunters and anglers shell out every year.
Arguments continue … if we give them an economic stake, they’ll want a place at the management table, and they’re all preservationist-vegetarians! But don’t they already have a voice, whether with picket signs or petitions? And don’t we actually have more in common than we disagree on? I’ll bet we can find agreement on most environmental issues (clean water being one example).
What’s your thinking? Put in your two cents’ worth, below. And don’t spare the incisive (or insightful, or inciting for that matter) comments.