Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
July was proclaimed “Michigan Wildlife Conservation Month” in the Great Lakes State by the state legislature and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders Representative Triston Cole sponsored the resolution in the State House and Senator Jon Bumstead sponsored the bill in the State House and Senate.
“As an avid and passionate outdoorsman, I value sharing our state’s wildlife and recreational opportunities with friends and family, and I want to encourage all Michiganders in the month of July to go out and enjoy our state’s natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and plentiful waters,” said Rep. Cole.
July was picked to celebrate conservation in the state because it marks the 81st anniversary of the Pittman-Robertson Act. This act redirected the excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to a fund for wildlife conservation purposes. To date, this legislation has contributed nearly $11.5 billion to wildlife conservation since enactment in 1937. In 1950, a similar bill was passed known as the Dingell-Johnson Act, which places an excise tax on fishing tackle to fund state fisheries management and angling access projects. The Dingell-Johnson Act was further expanded in 1984 with the Wallop-Breaux amendment, which added a tax on marine and small engine fuel to the fund. Combined, they create the American System of Conservation Funding which provides for the abundant natural resources we enjoy today.
As the resolution states, “Hunting and fishing licenses, not state taxes, provide tens of millions of dollars each year for wildlife conservation” in the state and country. This “user-pays, public-benefits” program is the driver for all wildlife conservation efforts in the United States.
A recent study conducted by Michigan United Conservation Clubs found that hunters and anglers contribute $11.2 billion to Michigan’s economy ever year resulting in 171,000 jobs, making the combined activities a top 10 job creating industry.
The Michigan Wildlife Council also celebrated the month by launching a traveling wildlife mosaic wall. The Council has hosted events across the state, including Comerica Park in Detroit, the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapid, and other locations in Flint, Lansing, and the Upper Peninsula. Individuals were encouraged to attach photos to the wall depicting images of Michigan’s wildlife. The completed mosaic will be displayed and permanently housed at the Michigan History Center in Lansing.
“Michigan is proud of its outdoor heritage and it is only right that we celebrate the sportsmen and women who contribute to Michigan’s healthy fish and wildlife resources,” said Nick Buggia, Member of the Michigan Wildlife Council and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Upper Midwestern States Manager.
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?