Ever more controversial, Governor's Tags have a new official endorsement - as well as a caution - from the Boone and Crockett Club.
In a new position statement, the organization founded by Theodore Roosevelt supports the modern concept of exclusive big game hunting permits sold at auctions to help fund conservation. The inordinate amount of money these permits bring is an acceptable buoy for state, provincial and tribal wildlife agencies' inadequate budgets, the Club says.
But Boone and Crockett also expressed concern about the relaxed ethical standards and "anything goes" perceptions that seem to follow some of the actual hunts.
"Every year, we hear from more and more hunters who are disheartened by tag hunts. And, frankly, some of their criticisms are justified," said Boone and Crockett Club President Morrie Stevens.
He added, "The cost usually required to buy a Governor's Tag is, essentially, an extra conservation tax on the wealthy. But volunteering to pay it shouldn't come with privileges that allow a person to skip the fair chase standards that made hunting a cherished American tradition. Buyers and their guides still have a duty, like everyone else, to keep our sporting lifestyle acceptable in the eyes of the public."
Boone and Crockett will continue to accept Governor's Tag trophies into its records program as long as the hunt was conducted under legal, ethical tenets. After all, the animals taken are part of the success story of modern habitat and game management programs, and tracking that success is why the Club keeps records in the first place.
But the Club also understands that paying for conservation isn't getting cheaper, and Governor's Tags allow an agency to usually collect in the range of $10,000 to $400,000 for the opportunity to hunt a single animal. Those revenues translate to benefits for all species and citizens.
Better communication and more transparency from participating agencies, the highest ethical conduct from Governor's Tag hunters and outfitters, and a deeper understanding from critics about today's urgent conservation needs, would improve the effectiveness and sustainability of these programs, the Club says.
To read the Boone and Crockett Club's full position statement, click here.