by Senator Terry Moulton
More than a year ago 51 legislators, from both parties and from every corner of the state came together to form the Wisconsin’s Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. Wisconsin joined 47 other states with similar groups that have the goal of promoting hunting, angling and our state’s outdoor heritage. Today, as one of the Co-Chairs of the Sportsmen’s Caucus, I’d like to join my fellow Co-Chairs Senator Mark Miller (D – Monona), Representative Joel Kleefisch (R – Oconomowoc) and Representative Nick Milroy (D – South Range) along with sportsmen-legislators from across the country in celebrating the 44th National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday, September 24th. National Hunting and Fishing Day recognizes the time-honored traditions of hunting and fishing and the important role that hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation in our state and across the country.
Sportsmen and women realized early on in our state’s history that conserving our natural and wildlife resources is one of our greatest responsibilities to future generations. Recognizing the need for wildlife restoration and protection, hunters and anglers developed and supported laws like the 1937 Pittman-Robertson Act and the Dingell-Johnson Act in 1950 to set up a system to pay for wildlife conservation programs. Together, these programs are known as the American System of Conservation Funding, a unique “user pays, public benefits” system.
Today, sportsmen and women drive conservation funding in the United States by purchasing hunting licenses, tags and waterfowl stamps, ammunition, firearms, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other hunting and fishing equipment. Last year, sporting goods purchases contributed over $36 million to fund conservation efforts in Wisconsin, while hunting and fishing licenses brought in an additional $67 million.
Everyone in Wisconsin benefits from these programs through fish and wildlife research, improved access to public lands, habitat restoration, public shooting facilities, improved water quality, private and public habitat management, hunter education, angler access area construction, and numerous other Department of Natural Resources projects funded by sportsmen. These programs are responsible for the extraordinary comeback of several game and non-game species in our state including the white-tailed deer, wild turkey, trumpeter swan, elk, lake sturgeon, lake trout, and our state fish, the muskie.
In addition to funding these programs through buying licenses and sporting goods, hunters, anglers and a wide variety of sportsmens’ organizations contribute thousands of volunteer hours to conservation projects and wildlife education throughout the state. As a result of these efforts, Wisconsin is known worldwide as a hunting and fishing destination and sportsmen and women spend $4.03 billion annually on hunting and fishing in Wisconsin, the ninth most in the nation. These funds directly support state and federal conservation efforts and contribute to our state budget, all while supporting 55,722 jobs across the state.
This month we celebrate the many benefits that hunting and angling provide for the Badger State. On Saturday the 24th, I encourage you to get out and enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful natural resources along with the many hunting and fishing opportunities across Wisconsin that have been preserved for us by generations of hunters and anglers. For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day visit www.NHFDay.org.