Three reasons for Americans to respect hunters & anglers
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- National Hunting and Fishing Day is set for Sept. 26, 2009. Congress formalized the annual celebration 37 years ago but organizers say hunters and anglers deserve America's respect now more than ever.
"Recent-year surveys show nearly 8 in 10 Americans approve of hunting and more than 9 in 10 approve of fishing. That's strong support. But, when viewed in the context of a recession and other modern headlines, our sporting traditions look even better today," said Denise Wagner of Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield, Mo., the official home of NHF Day.
She added, "On NHF Day, I hope people will pause to reflect on hunter and angler contributions to society. And for those of us who've long understood and enjoyed these passions, share the pride by introducing someone new to hunting, fishing or shooting."
Here are three reasons for the American public to value hunting and fishing today:
No bailouts needed here. Hunting and angling together are an economic force worth $76 billion a year. In 2010, America's economic stimulus package will generate its highest level of federal spending at $236 billion—but hunters and anglers will spend almost a third of that amount all by themselves. A Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation report shows if hunters and anglers were a nation, their Gross Domestic Product would rank 57 out of 181 countries. About 1.6 million jobs depend on hunters and anglers. Gas stations, stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses benefit, especially in rural America. And these recreations are comparatively recession proof. In the first half of 2009, hunting and fishing license sales actually gained 7.6 and 5.4 percent, respectively, over 2008, say the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
Rabies, crop damages, nuisances. Hunting helps control these wildlife issues and many others—none more dramatic than highway accidents involving deer. White-tailed deer once were on the verge of extinction but rebounded behind historic conservation efforts. Today, deer numbers are skyrocketing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates 1.5 million deer collisions occur each year. Over 200 people are killed annually. According to a Western Transportation Institute calculation that includes costs of emergency response, injuries to driver and passengers, damages to vehicle and more, the 2009 average cost of hitting a deer is $6,600. Total public cost: $9.9 billion a year. Now consider that, nationwide, for every deer hit by a motorist, hunters take six. Imagine the human casualties and costs if hunting ended.
What if Congress announced a tax increase to cover $2 billion in annual expenses for conservation programs? Don't worry. Hunters and anglers are already paying that tab. For the privilege of consuming surplus, renewable game and fish resources, hunters and anglers purchase licenses. They also pay special excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows, rods and reels. Combined, these fees generate $100,000 every 30 minutes, more than $1.75 billion per year, for wildlife, fisheries and habitat programs. Hunters and anglers also contribute another $300 million a year to nonprofit organizations that extend conservation benefits even further. Results have brought many species—turkey, elk pronghorn, Canada goose, wood duck and others—and their habitats from vanishing to flourishing. These efforts enabled restoration of other species such as wolves. America's living landscape is a precious asset for all citizens who enjoy wildlife and wild places.
Country music star Luke Bryan is serving as honorary chairman of National Hunting and Fishing Day 2009.
NHF Day sponsors include Wonders of Wildlife, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, Sportsman Channel, Realtree, GunBroker.com, Hunting Heritage Trust, Cabela's, Boone and Crockett Club, Smith & Wesson, Field & Stream/Outdoor Life, Woolrich, Yamaha and Pope and Young Club.
For more information, visit www.nhfday.org.