Date of this Version
Larson, L. R., Peterson, M. N., Furstenberg, R. V., Vayer, V. R., Lee, K. J., Choi, D. Y., Stevenson, K., Ahlers, A. A., Anhalt Depies, C., Bethke, T., T. Bruskotter, J., Chizinski, C. J., Clark, B., Dayer, A. A., Dunning, K. H., Ghasemi, B., Gigliotti, L., Graefe, A., Irwin, K., … Woosnam, K. M. (2021). The future of wildlife conservation funding: What options do U.S. college students support? Conservation Science and Practice, e505. https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.505
Insufficient funding is a major impediment to conservation efforts around the world. In the United States, a decline in hunting participation threatens sustainability of the “user-pay, public benefit” model that has supported wildlife conservation for nearly 100 years, forcing wildlife management agencies to contemplate alternative funding strategies. We investigated support for potential funding options among diverse college students, a rapidly expanding and politically active voting bloc with a potentially powerful influence on the future of conservation. From 2018 to 2020, we surveyed 17,203 undergraduate students at public universities across 22 states. Students preferred innovative approaches to conservation funding, with 72% supporting funding derived from industry sources (e.g., natural resource extraction companies), 63% supporting state sources (e.g., general sales tax), and 43% supporting conventional user-based sources such as license fees and excise taxes associated with outdoor recreation activities (e.g., hunting). Findings emphasize the need to broaden the base of support for conservation funding and highlight the importance of considering the preferences and perspectives of young adults and other diverse beneficiaries of wildlife conservation.