We all hate taxes of course. But because of excise taxes American fisherman and hunters pay on sporting gear, and because of our fishing and hunting license fees, I believe we’ve done more for fish and wildlife than any other nation on earth.
In other countries there’s collective whining by both equipment manufacturers and sportsmen and women when they’re asked to put their shoulders to the wheel to support their resources. Consider this.
In Europe, many of whose nations consider their ways smugly superior to ours, the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) is warning countries there not to introduce sea fishing licenses. Period. The feds in Australia say they’ve ruled out taxing recreational fishing tackle (though they gave nearly $200,000 to a fishing lobby group—RecFish—to come up with ways to make recreational fishing self-sustaining).
In the U.S. we contribute some eye-opening hard cash via license fees and sport equipment taxes but the majority of anglers and hunters seem not to know where that money goes, according to a recent pole by Southwick & Associates.
Consider the figures some serious research by my writer friend Janet Lebson uncovered. Fishing licenses fees amount to $557 million a year. Hunting license contribute $724 million (plus another $700 million from the Federal Duck Stamp since that wetlands program began). All this money is divvied up and goes 100% to state fish & wildlife agencies. There’s much more.
Excise taxes paid by consumers and manufacturers of sporting gear (and motor boat fuel) also are pumped back to state fish and wildlife agencies. That comes to $349 million yearly for fishing gear and motor boat fuel, $267 for hunting and shooting gear.
Since the inception of licenses and excise taxes over the past several decades, we’ve contributed more than $36.5 BILLION for everything from fish and wildlife research and monitoring, habitat restoration, fishing facilities, launch ramps, outdoor safety classes, shooting ranges and more.
Do you think the fishing/hunting hate groups know that? Or even the general public, who often think of us as simply consumers? Keep some of those figures in mind. They’re something to be fired across the bow of any misinformed soul who thinks fishing or hunting are harming wild critters or the environment.