While many hunters don't see state-sponsored tag donations to groups such as FNAWS
and RMEF as wise use of a limited resource, Lee says there is empirical proof that the money generated by auctioning tags to high bidders has played a tremendous role in boosting wild sheep numbers and thus has benefited everyone with an interest in big game.
In other words, by helping locals exploit the economic potential of the wildlife on their land, FNAWS has given the collective an incentive to preserve both that wildlife and its habitat.
So they incorporated FNAWS as a nonprofit and in 1979 started approaching the various states with wild sheep populations and saying, in essence, Give us one or two sheep hunting permits, we'll auction them to the highest bidder, and we'll give the proceeds right back to you, earmarked for conservation.
Right alongside an article celebrating how FNAWS auctions help ejidatarios "learn about the economic value of wildlife and continued conservation practices" lie advertisements that make a liberal worry he's in NRA-wacko territory after all.
FNAWS is different, says Lavigne, in that the hunts provide conservation funds without promoting a larger marketplace for endangered wildlife.
FNAWS itself currently auctions 25 to 30 permits per year, generating more than $2 million annually, for a to-date total of more than $24 million.
In the view of Ray Lee, the current president of FNAWS, "A lot of antihunting types make the mistake of looking at the individual animal as most important.