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Keeping land accessible is key to future of hunting,
says U.S. Fish and Wildlife official

LAS VEGAS – Ensuring that both public and private land is readily accessible to the average American hunter will play an important role in the future of hunting, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deputy Director Matt Hogan.

“I really worry that hunting is becoming somewhat of an elitist sport,” said Hogan.

Addressing the shooting industry’s future leaders at a SHOT Show luncheon, Hogan encouraged those in the industry and elsewhere to help ensure that everyone has a place to hunt without having to pay top dollar.

Hunting has always been an American tradition for all to enjoy, Hogan said, but paying for access to private land has become more and more expensive over the years and many Americans have been forced to abandon hunting because they can no longer afford it.

“Not having a place to hunt is one of the main reasons they drop out,” Hogan said.

Hogan said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to help hunters gain access to federal public land, but many challenges lie ahead with the emergence of other recreation groups seeking land for riding all-terrain vehicles, mountain bikes and other pursuits.

He said the service’s National Wildlife Refuge System has secured nearly 1 million acres of public land where millions of hunters and fisherman may enjoy their favorite pastimes. However, he said, much more must be done.

Hogan praised the National Shooting Sports Foundation for its efforts in working to address those issues.

“NSSF has emerged as a real leader in looking at many of these challenges and how to deal with them,” Hogan said.

Hogan stressed the importance of spreading the word that hunting and other shooting sports are a top financial contributor to conservation in the U.S., saying that about $607 million in hunter and angler tax dollars this year alone will go to wildlife conservation and management around the country.

Hogan also said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s director, Steve Williams, has worked hard to “reconnect” with the nation’s hunters and anglers. He added that the service has created programs to educate those that do not hunt about all of hunting’s benefits.

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