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Photo: Gerry Dincher/creative commons

The Audubon Society aren’t the only group partnering with local landowners to preserve important wildlife habitat.

Ducks Unlimited, the hunting and conservation charity dedicated to preserving wildflowl habitat, recently surpassed a goal of conserving or restoring over 100,000 acres of land in North Carolina. (Nationally, the group has protected over 13 million acres.) Of the 100,000 acres in NC, approximately 19,000 were preserved through conservation easements or land acquisitions, while 87,000 acres of wetland habitat have been restored to their natural state.

While opinions on hunting can be divisive among environmentalists and animal rights activists, the Ducks Unlimited announcement was quick to point out the significant role that hunters and anglers play in financing and lobbying for wildlife conservation:

“DU projects on public lands like the Futch, Goose Creek, Roanoke River Wetlands, North River, and Holly Shelter game lands and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge also enhance public hunting opportunities,” LeSchack said. “DU focuses on habitat conservation to provide waterfowl the resources they need across the continent, but providing hunters with improved and increased opportunities to hunt is also vitally important to us.”

Hunters and anglers are largely responsible for funding conservation through licenses and special taxes on hunting equipment. In 2011, more than 1.6 million sportsmen and women spent $2.3 billion on hunting and fishing in North Carolina. They supported 10,000 more jobs than the two largest employers in the state, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp, combined.