Hunting in America: Why it's expensive, and on the decline

The Sept. 27 article, "Hunters as endangered species? A bid to rebuild ranks" strikes close to home with me. Though I was raised in Chicago and firearms were utterly absent in my upbringing, when I was a young adult, a friend shared his passion and knowledge of firearms and target shooting with me.

Today, my friend and I drive to southern Wisconsin to hunt and practice shooting, but suburban sprawl is threatening this venue. And when we add up the cost of the nonresident hunting license, the state and federal stamps, the transportation and lodging expenses, well, the game we hunt is extremely expensive!

While all the hunters I know are members of wildlife conservation organizations, and they contribute significant sums annually to habitat conservation, state regulatory coffers, and the local economies where they hunt, high cost, urban development, and restrictions on hunting are rapidly making the sport out of the reach for all but a handful of ordinary Americans. Hunting is becoming a pastime only of the wealthy - those who can afford to fly overseas for a worthwhile experience.

To make hunting more available for ordinary people again, I suggest that federal and state governments obtain land on which to provide people with hunting opportunities.

Sadly, this is unlikely, and only those in the remaining rural areas of the US, or the affluent folks of my son's generation, will get to experience the wonders of predawn in the field and learning to track and hunt animals.
Bernard I. Turnoy
Life member, NRA
Deerfield, Ill.

It was distressing to read in the Sept. 27 article on hunters that state wildlife management agencies are being used as a means of "building commerce" for the gun- and shooting-sports industry. State wildlife agencies, in serving the greater public interest, should have but one job: protection and preservation of wildlife and its habitat. Instead, these agencies have become little more than pawns for those who see killing wildlife for sport as "wholesome" entertainment. We can all be pleased that the number of people engaging in recreational killing of America's wildlife continues to decline.

This fact makes it all the more disturbing that state fish and wildlife agencies are colluding with the shooting sports industry to promote youth hunting as a long term means of increasing the number of hunters in America. The Humane Society of the United States has mounted a vigorous campaign against efforts to increase youth hunting out of concern for public safety, concern for wildlife, and concern about the message that killing innocent wildlife for sport sends to our youth. As part of this campaign, the Human Society will be examining the legality of the collusion between the arms industry and State Wildlife management agencies.
John W. Grandy
Senior Vice President, Wildlife and Habitat Protection, The Humane Society of the United States

Tax cuts inappropriate

According to Matt Towery's Sept. 27 Opinion piece, "Why the US needs Bush's tax cut": The citizens of the US should leave the Iraqis to clean up the mess we made, abrogate our responsibility for the recently passed prescription-drug benefits for our seniors, again delay much needed assistance to the Gulf Coast, decrease our already meager assistance toward combating the AIDS crisis, and continue to neglect crumbling infrastructure, all for the purpose of continuing to cut taxes. I say this is a heartless trade off.
Chris Gilbert
Berkeley, Calif.

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