Hunters Hurt by Government Shutdown

Josh Fleming

National Wild Turkey Federation

As hunting seasons open across the nation, hunters are facing numerous challenges created by the shutdown of the federal government.

Countless hunters depend on federal lands for their hunting activities, and the closure of lands controlled by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and the Corps of Engineers is placing an unfair burden on sportsmen. Among the number of reasons people cite for why they stopped hunting is the lack of access to places to hunt, and the blockade to millions of acres of public hunting land is simply making the problem worse.

Not only has the closure of public lands proved to be difficult but the lack of information available about the status of various lands and facilities is creating barriers to hunting. Hunters are investing hard-earned money and time to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to their planned hunting locations only to find them closed.

Hunters positively impacted the economy to the tune of $87 billion in 2011 and supported more than 680,000 jobs. Reducing public land access hurts businesses and workers across the nation. When hunters can’t find a place to hunt, there’s no reason for them to purchase hunting arms, ammunition or even licenses, which in turn reduces vital funding for wildlife conservation. Excise taxes on hunting arms, ammunition and archery equipment funds a vast majority of wildlife conservation and habitat restoration efforts in every state.

In Kansas, a youth program in southeast Kansas was cancelled due to the shutdown. With youth waterfowl seasons about to open the next two weekends, many potential youth hunts are in jeopardy, including a scheduled hunt for John Redmond on the 26th. Many Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Land Management reservoirs inKansas offer public hunting access for waterfowl hunters which will not be available should the shutdown of the federal government continue through the end of the month.