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Director's Corner

Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

Want to Know How to Succeed at Conservation? Ask A Hunter

The folks at the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) invited me to speak at the association’s first-ever North American Whitetail Summit this week, and I jumped at the chance. 

deer hunters
A father and son spend time deer hunting at Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri. Credit: Carol Weston

It’s hard to find anyone who has done more to sustain and conserve the nation’s natural resources than sportsmen and sportswomen. 

More hunters pursue whitetail deer than any other game species in the United States, and whitetail hunting contributes millions of dollars each year to local economies. 

All hunters play an integral part in conservation and always have. 

Throughout the country, you’ll find hunting groups getting young people interested in spending time outdoors, restoring habitat and financing conservation. 

Heck, without waterfowl hunters, we might not know the honks of geese or the quacks of ducks. 

Driven by the urgent threat of market hunting and later, the environmental catastrophe of the Dust Bowl, waterfowl hunters organized themselves a century ago to plan and build a solid future for waterfowl hunting.  

One part of that plan was the Federal Duck Stamp that waterfowl hunters are required to purchase and carry. Taxing themselves? What an out-of-the-box idea. It worked. Since 1934, the money from sales of Federal Duck Stamps has purchased or leased more than 6 million acres of wetlands habitat in the United States. 


Hunting Brings You Face-to-Face with Nature’s Thrills, But Not the Way you May Think

I was lucky enough to spend some time this month week at SHOT Show, a trade show on hunting, shooting and the outdoors, where I got a chance to talk with hunters and shooting enthusiasts about conservation.


A hunter walks through at Selawik National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

Just like fishing (it’s called fishing, not catching), getting into the outdoors is often the best part of hunting. Many of the stories we shared reflected the hours we’ve spent waiting for waterfowl or elk or deer without even touching the trigger. That’s more than just OK. Being outside, away from the day-to-day, we are free to embrace an important part of our national heritage as well as, in my case, a big part of a family one.

Maybe we’ll see something we have never seen before – nature is always surprising and always a thrill.


Sportspeople Key to Economy and to Conservation

 I have been talking a lot these days about the economic value of hunting and fishing.

Today I am discussing that topic at a media event sponsored by the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, American Sportfishing Association and National Marine Manufacturers Association, all great groups focused on improving access to wildlife-related sports.

I am a hunter and an angler, have been all my life. I learned the skills from my dad, and his enthusiasm for the outdoors fed the little spark in me until that spark grew into a passion for fish and wildlife that led me to where I am today.

I know firsthand the importance of sportsmen and –women, and I love sharing that story.

Credit: USFWS

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation that we released a few weeks ago shows that the number of hunters and anglers in 2011 was up 10 percent over 2006.

This increase reverses decades of declines and is great news for the nation.


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