Abstract

Title:  The Future of Hunting Access
Author(s): Kip P Adams
Year: 2011
Abstract: Access is a major challenge facing the future of hunting. In some western states agencies compensate landowners for providing public access, but similar programs remain uncommon in the eastern U.S. where most deer hunting occurs. Hunting leases are a common access strategy. Leases provide incentives to open lands for hunting and security for participating hunters, but can displace local hunters and provide opportunity to fewer participants. Surprisingly, only 6.9% of hunters in the U.S. leased land in 2006. Leasing varies considerably by region and is inversely related to availability of public land. Current data suggest hunting by those with limited incomes will decline, and increasing costs of land ownership suggest access to private land will become more restricted. Fortunately, land ownership in North America is not restricted to the socially elite; the number of sportsmen owning land increased 56% from 1991 to 2006. Notably, the number leasing land during this period declined 11%. Lack of access is an important constraint to hunting participation, and one that agencies and other organizations can influence. The Public Trust Doctrine requires governments to maintain resources for the public’s use. This does little to ensure the quality of hunting experiences, but helps ensure continued access to lands. Wildlife agencies and hunters must establish landowner education and outreach programs that emphasize safety and promote ethical hunting behavior to improve access. Given current trends, it is likely that social, economic and legal barriers will make future access to private land for hunting more difficult and costly

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