We are a grassroots organization with a mission to create a new revenue tool for our Refuges — a Wildlife Conservation Pass created by and for birders, photographers, and wildlife watchers who care about the wild animals and wild lands of our National Wildlife Refuge System. The Wildlife Conservation Pass will be a modern adaptation of the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (aka Federal Duck Stamp).
We have supporters in a variety of fields and professions, from science to teaching to photography. Our organizational support includes ornithological and birding groups who are all passionate about and committed to wildlife conservation and new ideas in fundraising.
Please Read: What is the Wildlife Conservation Pass Project?
A Federal Wildlife Conservation Pass would provide a robust, parallel revenue stream for National Wildlife Refuges, preserving habitat and wildlife, while giving wildlife watchers and non-extractive users of our Refuges, a funding tool and an enthusiastic voice in habitat and wildlife decisions on our shared, public lands.
Please Read: Why a New Conservation Pass?
A 2011 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 71.1 million wildlife watchers in the U.S., and 13.7 million hunters. Wildlife watchers outnumber hunters significantly, and they spend $55 billion dollars each year in the pursuit of wildlife activities. In other words, there is a large and enthusiastic source of untapped revenue from wildlife watchers, one that could be rendered viable through this dedicated funding stream.
Please read: Benefits of the Wildlife Conservation Pass
Funds from the purchase of the Wildlife Conservation Pass would be distributed for the following purposes:
- Habitat acquisition for birds and wildlife species.
- Bird and wildlife projects and programs (such biological and field studies, funding for non-lethal predator control programs, etc.)
- Wildlife viewing programs and activities, including photography blinds, interpretive signs and areas, education and field materials for both adults and children
Among birders and wildlife watchers, there’s little disagreement about supporting our 560 plus National Wildlife Refuges, along with the habitat and wildlife they sustain. Most wildlife watchers are anxious to contribute their resources toward that end.
Disagreements tend to occur, however, when the subject of the Federal Duck Stamp arises. In summary, the challenges facing the current Duck Stamp program include: reduced financial support; cultural differences between hunters and non-extractive users; and, a strong association with Duck Stamps as a traditional financial resource for hunters.
We hear consistently from our supporters that the solution is simply to create an alternative fundraising tool for wildlife watchers, one that will instill a source of community pride and involvement for birders and wildlife watchers, just as the Duck Stamp does for hunters.
You can read a more detailed examination of this issue here:
- A 2013 Wildlife Society Bulletin piece states that changing demographics and cultural shifts away from hunting could result in a $14.3 million annual loss to refuges.
- According to CARE (Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement) consistent underfunding cripples our National Wildlife Refuge System in a variety of ways, including operations and maintenance backlogs.
- Additional issues include a shortage of law enforcement officials, as well as invasive species problems on 2.5 million acres of Refuge lands.
In a time of Congressional austerity and anti-environmentalism, Refuge advocates face an uphill battle in retaining public funding for the Wildlife Refuge System.
If you are a member of the media, a blogger or wildlife advocate please feel free to use this material or download our Electronic Press Kit (in pdf format) to cover or promote the project. You can also download related graphics from our Press Images page.
2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Wild Duck Chase
by Martin J. Smith
Walker & Company, Sep 2012
America’s National Wildlife Refuges – Good for Wildlife and for Business 2015
Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement
Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation 2011
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Time to Buy a Duck Stamp … or Not
10,000 Birds Blog