You say you enjoy photographing wildlife? Thank a hunter. Watching birds is about the best thing you can imagine? Pay homage to the millions of Americans who have paid billions in excise taxes…willingly…to practice the art and craft of hunting. What? How dare this guy make such statements? He must be as crazy as the Loon I saw winging across Lake Weyauwega last Fall. Listen up, dear friend…prepare to be educated.
Once upon a time America’s wildlife was in serious trouble. Treated as an inexhaustible resource, by the latter part of the 19th century many species of North American wildlife were ready to bid their final farewell, since the market for fur and feathers was booming and no one really thought about the results of over-procurement of such resources. All that began to change in the early 20th century.
The Lacey Act (1900) made it unlawful to transport game animals across state lines, ending “market hunting”, and Teddy Roosevelt (avid outdoorsman and hunter, and 26th President) was a prime voice for conservation. By the end of WWI, the idea of “user pay, user benefit” had become ingrained, and laid the foundation for the next big push.
The next big push came via Carl Shoemaker, author of the bill that would become the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act in 1937. As founder of the National Wildlife Federation, and at the urging of sportsmen groups and other conservationists, including ammunition companies, Shoemaker drafted a bill to aid in the conservation of wildlife resources. Sen. Key Pittman of Nevada and Rep. A. Willis Robertson of Virginia agreed to sponsor it, and President Roosevelt signed the bill into law on September 2, 1937.