CHAMPAIGN, Ill., 10/6/17: Illinois hunters each pay $25 for an annual federal duck stamp to legally shoot waterfowl, yet few know how their money is used, according to a University of Illinois study.
Stamp dollars are used to purchase and conserve wetlands and other duck habitats, supporting not only waterfowl, but also hundreds of species of migratory birds and other wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. But in surveys distributed to a random sample of 5,000 Illinoisans who purchased duck stamps before the 2002-03 and 2015-16 waterfowl hunting seasons, fewer than 30 percent of respondents knew that duck stamp funds are used to purchase wetlands and other duck habitats.
Seventy percent indicated that they were unaware of how the funds are used, according to Craig Miller, human dimensions scientist at the U of I’s Illinois Natural History Survey, a division of the Prairie Research Institute. A larger percentage of respondents who hunt annually indicated that they knew how stamp dollars were used compared with those who hunt less frequently.
“Most of the wildlife management community assumes that hunters know where their money is going,” Miller said. “We have shown that most of them do not.”
Stamps, along with a permit to hunt in a particular state, have been required for hunting waterfowl for the past 80 years and, last year, 58,247 stamps were purchased in Illinois. More than $850 million has been collected nationwide since the program’s inception, with 98% of the funds used to protect and enhance more than 6 million acres of critical habitat for breeding and wintering of waterfowl and birds.
“The results show that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state agencies have a lot of work to do to promote the conservation benefits this program has provided,” Miller said.
It is also important that the non-hunting public is made aware of how waterfowl hunters, through their annual purchase of federal duck stamps, positively affect conservation efforts and enhance wetland protection, Miller said. Bird watchers, photographers, and other outdoor enthusiasts often buy stamps to help fund conservation efforts.
About the Prairie Research Institute: The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign comprises the Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. PRI provides objective natural and cultural resource expertise, data, research, service, and solutions for decision making, the stewardship of Illinois’ resources, and the public good. www.prairie.illinois.edu
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