Wildlife Conservation

What You Should Know | Wildlife | Habitat | Populations | Tools | Role of Hunting | Final Quiz


Un-endangered Species

early 1900s exploitation hunterDuring the early 1900s, many North American species of wildlife were in serious trouble. Destruction of habitat and commercial exploitation had reduced some populations to critical levels.

But contrary to popular opinion, hunters were not the cause of this decline. In fact, it was the excise taxes and license fees imposed on sportsmen of this country that largely paid for programs that helped rescue many species from extinction. The following shows just how successful sportsmen have been at helping wildlife.

Canada Goose       Then - 1.1 million      Now - over 3.7 million!
Habitat destruction reduced Canada goose populations to a low of some 1.1 million birds in the late 1940s. Today, there are more than twice that number as a result of wildlife management measures implemented by the nation's conservation agencies.

Trumpeter Swan      Then - only 73 birds      Now - 900!*
In 1935, only 73 trumpeter swans were known to exist in the United States.**
Today, there are some 900 in several national parks and wildlife refuges.

Wild Turkey       Then - 100,000        Now - 4.5 million!**
While records of turkey populations during the early 1900s are vague, estimates are that encroaching civilization and habitat loss may have reduced populations to 100,000 birds or less. Today, conservation programs have restored turkeys to sustainable levels in 49 states with a total population of some 4,500,000 birds.

White-tailed Deer       Then - 500,000        Now - 18 million!*
In 1900, an official U.S. Survey estimated less than 500,000 white-tailed deer remaining in the nation. Today, there are about 18 million.

Elk       Then - 41,000       Now - 800,000!*
In 1907, only 41,000 elk could be counted throughout the United States. Today, there are more than 800,000. Most western states now have surplus populations that may be hunted during regulated seasons.

Pronghorn Antelope      Then - 12,000        Now - 1.1 million!*
About 50 years ago, the total United States population of pronghorn antelope was only about 12,000. Today, habitat restoration and restocking programs have helped increase pronghorn populations to more than 1.1 million.

For a list of the species currently listed as endangered, see the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at http://endangered.fws.gov/wildlife.html

* Source: National Shooting Sports Foundation, 1996
**In the lower 48 states