It especially bothers him — and other hunters — that those with means can buy public licenses through private outlets, paying thousands of dollars to move to the head of the line. More than any state in the West, Utah has expanded hunting opportunities for the well-to-do and has begun to diminish them for those seeking permits directly from the state.
State wildlife managers recognize this, but they say their motives are grounded in animal — if not social — welfare. Utah has embraced an increasingly free-market model as a way to raise more money for conservation.
Here is how it works: the state has enticed ranchers with an allotment of vouchers for lucrative hunting licenses that they can sell for thousands of dollars as part of a private hunt on their land. Many used to complain bitterly to state officials about elk and other game eating forage meant for their cattle.
The vouchers for hunting licenses, handed out for more than 10 years now, give them ample economic incentive to nurture big game on their land and not get frustrated with ranching and sell their land to developers.
Another program, smaller in scope but much more controversial, allows private nonprofit groups to auction off a few hundred licenses to the highest bidder or run their own drawing in exchange for supporting conservation projects. State wildlife managers say that with species like elk, the system is working to produce more game for all. ...
This new approach, some say, violates a century-old American ethic, articulated by Theodore Roosevelt, himself an avid hunter, that wildlife belongs to all, and not just to those with land or wealth.
But, it is efficient. It sounds like wildlife managers in Utah have moved towards allocating scare resources to their highest valued uses with the private landowner program. It is less clear for the "more controversial" program since those revenues are being directed to things that might not be considered "conservation" by some.
My opinion is if something is not fair it is better to address fairness directly, through reallocations in the distribution of income, than my screwing up the more efficient allocation of resources in individual sectors of the economy. That way, society can directly address the benefits and costs of inequity and focus on the efficiency of projects and policies.