Today is Earth Day. While it’s terrific to have a day recognizing the importance of the natural environment and conservation, it’s just another day for many hunters, land managers, and sportsmen. Growing up in a hunting and farming family, I guess I never really understood why people would blatantly destroy what Mother Nature was so graciously providing. Was it to make a quick buck? Was it due to laziness or convenience? Whatever the reason was for throwing that McDonald’s cup out the window, consider this the next time: we can destroy much faster than Earth can create.
As hunters, outdoorsmen, and conservationists, we are the ones out there 365 days a year. The outdoors is our means of sustenance and we prefer to keep it clean. This is precisely why every day is Earth Day for a hunter. Some businesses or communities will plant a tree or two or a hundred on Earth Day because it feels good and looks good, not just aesthetically, but also as a PR move. Meanwhile, hunters and land managers are out there every single day planting trees, prairie grasses, and food plots without any expectation of credit. Why? Because we have a deep connection to the Earth and natural world. It provides us with clean protein and we do everything we can to make the land naturally productive.
Those of us that don’t own land or have the luxury of managing habitat, which is the majority, still participate in the conservation effort in a larger than recognized way. Sure, we may not be physically improving the landscape with habitat improvements, but our dollars sure are. The thing many non-hunters and anti-hunters don’t understand is that we (hunters, anglers, and shooters) are BY FAR the largest donors to conservation.
So, just how much do sportsmen contribute to conservation?
According to a survey provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) here’s the breakdown:
- Sportsmen contribute $8 million every day to conservation, $2.9 billion every year.
- More than $1.42 billion (48%) comes from hunting and fishing license sales
- $749 million (25%) through excise taxes paid on firearms, ammo, and tackle
- $608 million (20%) from other revenue sources like Duck and Wildlife stamps
Anti-hunters listen up, hunters and anglers provide more than 75% of the annual funds of the 50 state conservation agencies. You know what that means? It means we are paying and contributing the most to programs that benefit all Americans and all wildlife. Education is a powerful thing. You just have to be willing to learn.
So, whether you’re out picking up litter or planting trees today, just remember one day of collective “clean-up” is not a sustainable practice to overcome the other 364 days of littering and habitat loss. As hunters and sportsmen, we often do our part every day, not just on Earth Day.