HUNTING AND FISHING DAY IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
by Whit Gibbons
September 21, 2008
was the first president to strongly support the concept that people who
hunt and fish are the nation's foremost conservationists. In 1972 Richard
Nixon signed a proclamation that had been unanimously approved by Congress
designating the fourth Saturday of September as National Hunting and Fishing
Day. Nixon urged all citizens "to join with outdoor sportsmen in
the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management
for the benefit of future generations." This year National Hunting
and Fishing Day is September 27.
and anglers remain among the staunchest supporters of flourishing, thriving
natural ecosystems. You cannot hunt and fish if you do not have wild,
undeveloped lands and clean, unpolluted waters. For the sportsperson who
hunts or fishes, healthy habitats and clean environments are vitally important.
of animal rights often puts hunters and sometimes even anglers at odds
with other people. Antihunting campaigns are rampant in many parts of
the country, and the conflicts are often bitter, most with no satisfactory
resolution in sight. Somebody is going to be unhappy. What may seem ironic
to some people is that most hunters and anglers support environmental
efforts to maintain sustainable use of fish and game. Animal rights advocates
are concerned about the welfare of individual animals whereas anyone who
hunts or fishes cares about the welfare of all individuals in the population.
Hunters and anglers want to be assured that their target species are still
around in the future. An animal rights activist may have various reasons
for supporting antihunting campaigns that are directed toward particular
species or areas, but no one can say that hunting is bad for the environment.
Collectively, hunters have arguably have done more to protect natural
environments nationwide than virtually any other identifiable demographic
community, although a small proportion of the national population and
getting smaller every year, has a major impact on environmental protection
and preservation. Hunting revenues are substantial, the total amount of
money being $23 billion in the last survey year. Among the states, Texas
ranked first in number of resident hunters (979,000), and they spent a
whopping $2.3 billion. Alabama was one of the highest ranking southeastern
states, with 310,000 hunters (rank 9) spending $847 million. A midrange
state like South Carolina had 159,000 hunters (rank 28) and spent $288
million. Federal excise taxes on hunting equipment contribute directly
to the support of land purchases, habitat protection, and wildlife management
programs. That's a highly significant contribution toward environmental
trend does not look good for hunters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
released last fall was based on the 2006 survey. In 1960 more than 10
percent of the U.S. population hunted. The proportion has fallen steadily
since, to about 9 percent in 1980, 8.3 percent in 1990, 6 percent in 2001,
and to only 5 percent in the most recent survey.
that wildlife populations are sustainable from one generation to the next
a diversity of natural habitats must be kept intact, unpolluted, and undisturbed.
Hunters support these efforts with their attitudes about natural habitats,
and with their pocketbooks. Fewer hunters means less revenue with its
clear benefit to natural habitats. Shouldn't anyone interested in environmental
quality support hunters?
preservation is critical for all wildlife, not just game species. The
major threat to most natural ecosystems and wildlife species today is
habitat degradation and destruction. Irresponsible commercial development
is a leading culprit when natural habitats are destroyed, then replaced
with artificial ones where most native wildlife does poorly. In many states,
hunting clubs preserve more natural habitat than do most environmental
organizations. The focus of such clubs may be on managing selected game
species, but nongame wildlife also benefit. Some hunting clubs are exemplary
models of private land ownership helping to preserve natural habitats.
So on September
27, National Hunting and Fishing Day, if you know someone who hunts or
fishes, take a moment to say thanks for helping keep America wild.
you have an environmental question or comment, email