Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) learned this week about the rise in hunting and fishing participation and its importance to this country.
"To put it in perspective, the 37 million sportsmen and women over the age of 16 in America is the same as the population of the state of California, and the $90 billion they spent in 2011 is the same as the global sales of Apple's iPad™ and iPhone™ in the same year," said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.
"Hunting and fishing have been, and clearly continue to be, important elements of our country's outdoor heritage and they are critically important to our nation's economy - particularly the small local economies that support quality hunting and fishing opportunities."
The CSC was briefed by a coalition of angling groups and the outdoor industry, with information obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey on Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation. To show the importance of fishing and hunting participation and expenditures, these groups compared them to mainstream industries.
Released in August, the data shows a 9 percent increase in hunters and an 11 percent increase in anglers, compared to the 2006 survey. (Since this information refers only to those 16 and older, actual participation is likely higher when adding in youth.)
Most importantly, hunters and anglers continued their strong spending habits. From equipment expenditures ($8.2 billion for hunters, $6.2 billion for anglers) to special equipment ($25 billion towards boats, RV's, ATV's and other such vehicles) to trip-related expenses totaling over $32 billion, sportsmen and women continue to direct their discretionary income toward their outdoor pursuits.
"The economic impact of hunting and fishing is profound in South Dakota and across the country," said Sen. John Thune (South Dakota), Republican Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "It's important that we have policies that promote hunting and fishing and support the outdoor industries."
"People don't think about hunting and fishing in terms of economic growth," added Sen. Jon Tester (Montana), Democratic Senate Co-Chair of the CSC. "The statistics in the new economic impact report are great and will go a long way to telling the public just how important hunting and fishing are in this country."
Beyond the impact to businesses and local economies, sportsmen and women have played an essential and unmatched role in conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats. Sportsmen and women are the nation's most ardent conservationists, putting money toward state fish and wildlife management.
When you combine license and stamp fees, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, the tax from small engine fuel and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011 - that is over $95 every second.
This does not include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing, which would add another $11 billion to the mix.
"This is the 75th anniversary of our nation's system of conservation funding - a model that is envied throughout the world - that directs excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment toward state-based conservation,” said Michael Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association.
“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs have resulted in robust fish and wildlife populations and quality habitat that is the legacy of the industry and sportsmen and women.”