U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared October to be officially recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month.
Hunting and fishing just got a symbolic boost from U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, when Zinke declared October to be officially recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month.
In a Department of Interior press release dated September 21, 2017, Zinke indicated that he made the declaration "to recognize the lasting and positive impact of hunters and anglers on wildlife and habitat conservation in America."
"?I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. ?Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That's something I want more families to experience,? which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important,?" Zinke said.
"Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, ?and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be. Formally recognizing the contributions of hunters and anglers to wildlife and habitat conservation is long overdue."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) conducted a survey that revealed that 101.6 million Americans (40% of the U.S. population) participated in some type of hunting, fishing or other wildlife-associated recreation in 2016. This demographic poured an estimated $156.3 billion into the economy, by paying for licenses, fees, equipment, travel, etc..
While hunter participation is down overall, 9.2 million hunters, or 80% of the total hunter demographic, participated in some form of big game hunting for deer, elk or turkey. Collectively, these hunters added at least $25.6 billion to the economy, which doesn't even count the dollars and time added to wildlife conservation via the many game animal organizations and individual and group efforts.
The press release indicated that the declaration was signed at the grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri. Event speakers included former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. Richard Childress, second Vice President of the National Rifle Association, will serve as honorary chair of Hunting and Fishing Day.
"Hunters, anglers, and target shooters are the best conservationists who contribute so much through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts," said Childress.
"Last year, they contributed $1.2 billion toward conservation and protecting our natural resources. We need more mentors taking young people out and teaching them to hunt and fish, so I'm glad Secretary Zinke is promoting hunting and fishing at the federal level."
The press release also stated that in early September, "Zinke signed a directive to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. The order expanded hunting, fishing and shooting on public lands and sought innovative solutions to open private land. It also focused on wildlife and habitat conservation and restoration as well as better collaboration with states, tribes and territorial governments. The move was widely praised by sportsmen and wildlife conservation organizations."
While not everything that Zinke has done as Secretary of the Interior has met with approval from sportsmen or wildlife conservation organizations, declaring October as National Hunting and Fishing Month is one symbolic gesture that sportsmen can herald.
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