Hunting Expo Partners Report $6M+ Conservation
Successes of 10th Anniversary Event
Salt Lake City • Wednesday, March 2, 2016 –
The Western Hunting and Conservation Expo (WHCE) partners released information on the successes of the 2016 WHCE event, which exceeded previous records for attendance and donations raised for Utah wildlife conservation topping 40,000 attendees and $6 million in wildlife conservation donations.
The success of the WHCE makes it the largest non-profit fundraiser in the state. Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife (SFW) and the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) partnered in presenting the 10th Annual WHCE event held last month, a gathering that is also becoming one of the most important annual events for the protection and enhancement Utah’s diverse wildlife and habitats.
One of the primary attractions to the WHCE is 200 special Utah hunting permits available to the public for a $5 application fee each. The $5 drawing alone raised more than $1 million for Utah conservation this year. One dollar and fifty-cents of each $5 application fee is retained for the Utah Division of Wildlife and its wildlife conservation programs, and $3.50 evenly split between SFW and MDF, all of which is used to bolster wildlife conservation throughout the state of Utah benefitting multiple species. This commitment to utilize 100% of the application fee revenue to support Utah Conservation Initiatives included in the contract that SFW recently signed with the State to distribute expo permits from 2017 to 2021. We will annually disclose how these funds are utilized to benefit Utah wildlife.
Through evening auctions of Utah conservation tags, an additional $2.5 million was raised to support the Utah wildlife conservation efforts of SFW, MDF and the State of Utah. In the Friday night auction, the Antelope Island mule deer tag sold for a record-breaking $410,000.
“We applaud Utah lawmakers and our state wildlife agency for their vision in making these conservation permits and the two hundred permits available to our expo,” said SFW President Jon Larson. “Without that support, this level of contribution from the hunting public simply would not be available to Utah’s wildlife conservation programs.”
SFW and MDF use their portion of the $5 application revenue to fund a wide variety of meaningful wildlife conservation projects in Utah. For example, SFW has invested nearly $300,000 of the application revenues in the past few years on youth outreach and pheasant augmentation programs. The group has also funded over $280,000 of a groundbreaking, multi-year study in partnership with Brigham Young University involving the capture, transplant and radio collaring of Utah mule deer along southern Utah’s Parowan Front. An ongoing $125,000 research study to determine causes and solutions to Utah’s dip in moose populations has also been funded using SFW’s portion of the $5 application revenues, as has a two-year water protection and storage program that is enabling wintering deer to survive on the trophy east Paunsaugunt unit of Southern Utah. Details of these and other projects funded with $5 application revenue, as well as SFW’s 990 tax audit reports, are available online at www.sfw.net.
MDF committed over $93,000 of $5 application funds in 2016 to habitat restoration and maintenance of wildlife projects located in all regions of Utah. MDF also uses the fee money to operate its highly successful M.U.L.E.Y. youth outreach program giving thousands of Utah youth exposure to and opportunity to participate in hunting and shooting sports. Both organizations fund over 30 ongoing annual habitat improvement projects that enhance critical habitat benefitting mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and other species in Utah. One of the most high-profile of all Utah wildlife conservation projects partially funded through the application revenues is the urban mule deer translocation projects. Both SFW and MDF accept important responsibilities in these projects and provide much of the needed funding and volunteer labor in capturing, radio-collaring and transporting mule deer captured in Bountiful and the Parowan Front and releasing them at various locations in the Uintah Basin, northern and southern Utah.
These and other important projects funded with the $5 application revenues have contributed to Utah’s 2015 mule deer hunting season being the most successful in recent decades.
According to MDF President/CEO Miles Moretti, the WHCE partners also use their portion of the $5 application fee revenue in a collaborative and leveraged approach to implement real solutions to conservation challenges in the state of Utah. “These funds are important to us and the state of Utah in that they enable us to support projects, programs and policies that are critical in making Utah’s unique conservation model function effectively. MDF believes in transparency and our current audited financials and 990’s are available on our website www.muledeer.org.”
The importance of this leveraged approach is measurable in the significant support the WHCE partners have provided to the State of Utah since the 200 Expo tags were first offered in 2007.
The WHCE partners have raised more money for conservation in Utah than any other hunting conservation groups combined. The WHCE partners account for over 86% of all of the direct conservation funding raised by the top five groups participating in Utah’s Conservation Permit Program. Since 2007 the partners have raised over $22 million in direct funding to the state of Utah, which represents the bulk of private funding for conservation programs in the state and nearly 10 times that of the next closest competitor.
“Money raised by the WHCE partners through the $5 application revenue is often leveraged or matched as high as 10-1 in current state programs,” Larson added. “This approach has led to millions of dollars in on-the-ground habitat improvement projects since the expo began yielding critical benefits to the health and survival of Utah wildlife.”
Significant projects and programs funded by SFW and MDF’s portions of the $5 application revenues include but are not limited to the following:
1. The Utah Mule Deer Recovery Act
2. Transplanting and translocation of deer, moose, elk, bighorn, bison, turkeys,
antelope, mountain goats, fish, and other wildlife species
3. Advancing funding for programs to improve quality wildlife management
programs in the state
4. Highway underpasses for migrating deer, elk and wild sheep
5. Purchasing horse trailers and equipment for transplants and habitat projects.
A contract for the state’s 200 expo tags was recently awarded to SFW for use over the next five years in its annual WHCE events. As the WHCE continues to expand, SFW and MDF foresee expanded and even more significant results for wildlife conservation in Utah through the $5 application fee revenues. The conservation groups already work closely with their more than 31 chapters throughout the state in prioritizing and planning conservation projects and how monies will be invested on regional and local levels. Beginning in 2016-2017, the groups are initiating an even more intensely collaborative planning program with five or six major categories of conservation project categories that will enable a greater level of partnering between conservation organizations and state and federal wildlife agencies that will benefit Utah wildlife for the next generation. Reporting targeted expenditures to sportsmen and tracking results will also become more vigorous.
The WHCE is perhaps the most unique gathering of hunters from all socio-economic and diverse backgrounds in North America. It is also the fastest growing expo event for western hunters and represents the single greatest opportunity to raise funds for the benefit of Utah’s diverse wildlife and conservation programs.
Next year’s Western Hunting and Conservation Expo will be held again at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City February 16–19, 2017.
Headquartered in North Salt Lake, Utah, Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife is a charitable, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of SFW is to promote the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat, assist in providing quality wildlife management programs, educating the public about the role hunters play in wildlife conservation, and perpetuating the family tradition of hunting and fishing. Visit www.sfw.net or call 801-936-1386.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.