Transferable Hunting Permit Programs Can Be a Vital Tool for Conservation

News for Immediate Release
September 20, 2021
Contact: Kat Dwyer, 406-587-9591, kdwyer@perc.org

Bozeman, MT—PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center, released a new policy brief that explores how we can utilize landowner hunting permits to conserve wildlife habitat, Conserving Wildlife Habitat with Landowner Hunting Permits: Lessons from western states to enhance voluntary conservation on private lands.

Private lands provide critical wildlife habitat and other conservation benefits for the public, like clean water and carbon sequestration. But providing these conservation benefits comes at a cost. And these costs put increased pressure on private landowners to convert their land to development, a move that certainly doesn’t benefit wildlife. 

Transferable hunting permit programs can be a vital tool for conservation by compensating landowners to offset wildlife-related costs and encourage additional wildlife conservation on private lands. 

The policy brief examines several western states (Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah) that have transferable hunting permit programs and draws lessons for enhancing voluntary conservation on private lands.

Allowing private landowners to financially benefit from the presence of wildlife on their property is a commonly accepted practice that states use to encourage conservation, mitigate human-wildlife conflict, and further a range of other conservation goals. 

“If the goals are to conserve and improve habitat while offsetting landowner costs, transferable hunting tags provide a crucial element—and potential revenue stream—that makes those goals possible,” say authors Catherine Semcer and Jack Smith.

To maximize benefits for all stakeholders, programs must be thoughtfully designed so that state agencies continue to manage wildlife well while also creating incentives for private landowners to conserve habitat, wildlife, and other environmental benefits.

The policy brief makes the following recommendations: 
  • Enhance accountability
    • Require landowners to steward quality habitat or bear wildlife-related costs to qualify for permits. 
    • Adjust permit numbers according to property-level conditions.
    • Align landowner goals with state conservation plans.
  • Empower landowners
    • Respect private property rights while facilitating public access.
    • Allow small property owners to apply for permits as a group.
  • Ensure the public receives fair value for wildlife
    • Give landowners permit vouchers, retaining authority to sell permits within state agencies.
    • Limit permit applicability to landowners’ private property except in special instances.

Read the full policy brief.

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