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A new bill promotes transparency in wildlife conservation funding

A buck mule deer stands in the grass in front of an orange, rocky background.
Ken Lund
Hunters can pay to hunt animals like this buck mule deer.

Representative Casey Snider, a republican from Paradise, is sponsoring legislation that will impact wildlife conservation in Utah. One bill, HB 78, would establish a Wildlife Conservation Fund to better track money raised from hunting expos and tag raffles.

“The best way I would describe it is is sort of a glass box. …The Wildlife Conservation Fund just makes sure that people understand fully where money's coming in from where it's going out and what it's doing," Snider said.

“Wildlife is a state resource that belongs to everybody. These tags are purchased by individuals with the notion that the dollars they invest is not only going to go back to the division, it's going to be a specific value to the wildlife that they're pursuing,” Snider said.

Riley Peck, legislative liaison for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the bill will not have dramatic consequences for hunting or the current system of selling and raffling tags.

“Everything else as far as how the money was spent, what the money can be used for, where it's generated does not change and will not change. It's how it is tracked what it's classified as and where the money goes in which funding,” Peck said.

For every tag auctioned at the conservation expo, 90% goes back to conservation research for that specific species. Ultimately, Snider said, the bill is about transparency. Hunters contribute to conservation when they buy gear and tags, and they deserve to know how that money is used.

“I love hunting and fishing. And I also love wildlife. So for me it makes sense. I really do look at it at a more holistic level. It's the opportunity to pursue, it's the management of healthy wildlife populations, it's knowing that my dollars are going back into these animals,” Snider said.

As of last week, HB 78 has passed in both the House and the Senate.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.