MISSOULA, Mont.–As America prepares to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day (Sept. 27) and decades of conservation successes funded via sporting licenses and excise taxes, new data show that groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are increasingly important financiers of fish, wildlife and habitat programs.
Hunters are now spending over $300 million per year on membership dues to outdoor organizations. That total has risen 25 percent over five years.
“Congress created National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1971 to thank hunters for supporting conservation through hunting licenses and excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, bows and arrows. Today there’s another chapter to the story. Hunters now also support conservation in a major way through their dues and contributions to conservation organizations,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
Since launching in 1984, the Elk Foundation has led a variety of partners in a habitat-focused elk conservation initiative worth over half a billion dollars.
“Projects have included habitat protection and stewardship, elk restoration, research, wildlife management activities and conservation education–all in an effort to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat,” said Allen.
The Elk Foundation is, of course, just one of many fine organizations supported by hunters. Data show the average migratory bird hunter spent $30.14 on yearly dues in 2006, up 15 percent from 2001. Big-game hunters averaged $17.38, up 25 percent. Small-game hunters spent $9.66 each, up 31 percent.
All together, dues now generate $305 million annually compared to $295 million from excise tax programs and $753 million from licenses, tags, permits and stamps.
“Dedication to outdoor organizations is another example of how hunters are, and always have been, the true heroes of conservation in America. And it’s a part of the National Hunting and Fishing Day story that tends to be overlooked,” said Allen.
Data are based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2001 and 2006 National Surveys of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, prepared for the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “Today’s Hunter” reports for 2006 and 2008, and Industry Intelligence Reports, Vol. 2, No. 9, 2008.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has already conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.4 million acres–a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. Most work occurs on public lands. More than 561,000 acres have been opened or secured for public access including hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.