Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 11-06-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | NOVEMBER 6-12, 2019 THE VALLEY 9 CUMBERLAND – When Cumberland resident Tony Alves started hunting 50 years ago, he often came across other hunters searching for deer and turkey in the woods of Rhode Island. These days, the former president of the Cumberland Beagle Club said, the sport is safer than it used to be, but that hasn't stopped present-day hunters from getting pulled away by the distractions of modern life. "Unfortunately I don't see a lot of hunters in the woods," he told The Valley Breeze. "Years past, I would come across one or two hunters in the woods, but times have changed, so either people are working and don't have recreation time, or maybe there's less hunters." Alves and his son, Matt, are both active hunters, but according to data gathered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, they're part of a declin- ing trend. From 2000 to 2017, the number of licensed hunters living in Rhode Island fell from 10,530 to 6,291, a 40 percent drop. The number of deer permits purchased by hunters showed a similar drop, from 17,827 in 2000 to 14,391 in 2017. That's concerning news for anyone involved with wildlife conservation, according to Dylan Ferreira, senior wildlife biologist for the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife. In 1937, Congress passed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, ensuring that the vast majority of state con- servation efforts are funded through hunting and fishing activities and firearms sales. Better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act for its spon- sors, the law places an 11 percent federal excise tax on long guns and ammunition and a 10 percent tax on handguns, earmarking the proceeds for conservation and hunter educa- tion. "You have a pot of money that's then distributed to the state and the state agencies from the federal gov- ernment," Ferreira explained. Interest in shooting sports and fire- arms sales have remained strong, but the decline in hunters impacts the amount of money Rhode Island is eligible to receive, he said. Pittman- Robertson funds are distributed in part based on the number of licensed hunters in the state, so states with more hunters can receive more funds. On top of that, states are required to provide a 25 percent match, funds primarily generated through license and permitting fees for hunting and fishing. The end result is that small states such as Rhode Island, which don't generate as much income as larger states with active hunting populations, are sometimes limited in how much they can match and have to turn away federal funds. "Essentially, we're leaving money at the table that we're not using, so it just goes back to the federal govern- ment," said Ferreira. With hunting in decline across R.I., state conservation funds in jeopardy By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer ETHAN OSENKOWSKI, of Coventry, takes aim at a flying clay target during a recent Youth Waterfowl Mentored Hunt Training Day, hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management at the Great Swamp Shooting Range in West Kingston. The event was supported by hunter educa- tion funds from the Pittman-Robertson Act. 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