On Saturday, September 27, hunters and anglers across the country celebrated the 42nd annual National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD).
Established by Congress in 1972, and modeled after Pennsylvania’s “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day,” National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling, as well as the historical and current contributions of hunters and anglers, the original conservationists. Realizing the need for sound, science-based wildlife management, hunters and anglers took it upon themselves to ensure sustainable funding for management of our fish and wildlife resources through the implementation of license and tag fees, as well as excises taxes on outdoor gear.
This unique and eminently successful system of “user-pays, public-benefits” fish and wildlife management, known as the American System of Conservation Funding, was created through passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act (excise taxes on firearms and ammunition) in 1937 and the Dingell-Johnson Act (excise taxes on fishing rods and tackle) in 1950, collectively known as the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs. This money is distributed among the 50 states in order to fund fish and wildlife management activities. In 2014 alone, hunters and anglers contributed over $1.1 billion to state conservation efforts through excise taxes on purchases of items including guns, ammunition, fishing tackle, and motorboat fuel.
Sportsmen and women are also major economic drivers for the U.S. economy. As noted in the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) 2013 Sportsmen’s Economic Impact Report, “America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy”, America’s more than 37 million hunters and anglers spend over $90 billion annually in pursuit of their passions, supporting countless jobs and providing a major boost to rural economies.
As part of the National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration, numerous state sportsman-legislators from the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) sent out press releases and op-eds commemorating the vast conservation and economic benefits provided by America’s sportsmen and women.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?