It’s the ‘Bureau of Wildlife BOW’ Not the ‘Department of Environmental Conservation’!

Through their elected representatives, the public made it clear that mute swans were not to be crippled and killed, not at least before public hearings were to be convened, allowing for unbiased experts and other individuals to provide input. The will of the New York State Legislature was on the side of giving the swans a fair hearing. Gov. Cuomo’s second veto blocked that democratic process and allows for the annihilation and crippling of the mute swans. It serves only a tiny minority that wanted to introduce a wilder and thus more huntable swan species to New York State.

The governor once again expressed his allegiance to what is essentially a rogue bureau operating within the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

In C.A.S.H’s opinion, it’s important to tease apart the Bureau of Wildlife (using their cynical acronym “BOW”) from the larger more diverse agency it is exploiting for both credibility and financial support. We urge wildlife protectors to stop calling the Bureau of Wildlife “the DEC,” and isolate it (at least linguistically) for its unique and narrow purpose, financing, and public perception. If we continue to refer to BOW as the DEC, we will never be able to do that. We are now conflating two entities: the umbrella agency that operates with general-fund monies on behalf of the general public, and the Bureau of Wildlife that operates parasitically within the larger department and operates with firearms excise taxes, hunting-permit fees, and overhead paid for with general funds. For every three dollars of federal Pittman-Robertson tax given to the state, $1 of state money has to match it. That can come from hunting permits “or wherever.” The “wherever” is quite vague and needs investigation.

BOW collects license fees from hunters, trappers, and anglers. The agency is tasked with making weapons available for use against animals for the excise taxes on firearms and bows and arrows that are distributed to states by the federal government. They are apportioned according to the number of hunting permits sold relative to the land mass and total population of hunters in the state. That’s why Alaska and Texas always top the list of recipients of the Pittman-Robertson (P-R) tax: they have lots of land and a high population of hunters within the overall population.

While the anti-gun groups and politicians rant against crimes committed with firearms, they give hunting a pass, showing no understanding (possibly intentionally) of the inextricable relationship between gun use and the Conservation Fund whose money can only be used to promote more use of firearms.

In New York State, the larger department is called the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Other state environmental departments may be called the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). But in every state, the P-R tax goes to their respective bureaus of wildlife. Since the excise taxes are paid at the point of manufacture or import, and end up in the Conservation Fund, the taxes could be not only from legal hunting and culls in forests and parks, but from guns used in drug-related crimes in cities as well.

Whether gun users are licensed or unlicensed, whether victims are human or non-human animals, it is irrelevant to the funding of all state bureaus of wildlife.

In 1987, in the classic publication by the Department of Interior, Restoring America’s Wildlife, it says, “To divert the special funds … to other purposes, no matter how noble, would betray their valuable contribution to a public resource.” The book, which is really an expose of the machinations of the original linking of wildlife management to the success of the firearms industry, gloats that “the crimes bill passed, but the provision that would have removed the handgun tax from P-R was deleted beforehand.”

To spare our wild animals and ecology, and remove the dependency on firearms money, several things need to be done:

  1. The public needs to DEMAND (it will take an act of Congress) that to the extent that crime has paid into the Conservation Fund, those funds must be used for the victims of gun crime, their medical expenses, funeral expenses, and families left behind with loss of income.
  2. The public needs to demand that bureaus of wildlife manage wildlife watching and derive income from such products as cameras, birdseed, binoculars, tents, etc. Considering the huge numbers of those items, even a 50 cent tax could yield millions or billions of dollars. Careful oversight is needed to be sure the funds are not diverted to the old guard.

Those are simple changes, but not simple to get, given our slow-as-molasses system and the battle that will take place.

First, the public has to understand, then elected representatives need to understand and carry out the public’s will.

For starters, let’s stop referring to BOW as the DEC.

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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561
845/256-1400