Fewer Hunters Means Fewer Dollars For Conservation

Nov 4, 2015

Hunting license sales have been on a steady decline in Vermont over the last few decades, mirroring a trend seen in many states around the country. License fees account for a significant portion of the budget for Fish and Wildlife departments. So the declining numbers of hunters negatively impact those budgets, and fee increases can't keep pace with the increasing costs of research and enforcement.

Hunters can no longer be relied on as the main funding source for research into chronic wasting disease in deer or to cover all the costs of the state game wardens, who enforce wildlife regulations across the state with a team of about three dozen. Vermont wildlife and government officials are looking at changing the model for how wildlife conservation, research and enforcement is paid for by everyone who uses the outdoors. But a previous attempt to attach a registration fee on the purchase of kayaks and canoes a few years ago was met with widespread antipathy from Vermont recreationers. So what's the right approach?

We talk with wildlife biologist Kim Royar, special assistant to the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife about how the department is working on alternative revenue sources. And we hear from Matt Crawford, former outdoors editor with the Burlington Free Press, who currently works for a PR firm specializing in the outdoor and adventure industry.

Let us know how you think the Fish and Wildlife Department should be funded. Would you be willing to pay for your recreational access or equipment with a special fee? Write to vermontedition@vpr.net or comment below.

Also on the program, why the Franklin West Supervisory Union has been accepted into the League of Innovative Schools. It's a national organization that brings public education leaders together to share research, thinking and approaches to teaching. Franklin West includes three rural towns in northeastern Vermont-- Fletcher, Fairfax and Georgia. But don't mistake "rural schools" to mean schools that are technologically behind the curve. Superintendent Ned Kirsch tells Vermont Edition that students in his SU are using technology to correspond with other kids around the world, learn skills that will be imperative in later careers, and find flexible pathways to graduation. And they're blogging as they go.

Broadcast live on Wed., Nov. 4, 2015 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.