National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 28 is a perfect day to celebrate the contributions by hunters and anglers to fish and wildlife conservation through the Sportfish and Wildlife Restoration Program.
“Celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day helps recognize that hunters and anglers have been the leaders in major conservation programs since the beginning of the 20th century,” said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry. “They are responsible for the majority of funding for Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department through the federal excise taxes they lobbied to create and through the annual licenses they purchase. Thanks to the federal Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts, the money collected must be dedicated to supporting fish and wildlife conservation.”
The resulting scientifically based fish and wildlife conservation programs have led to the dramatic comeback of many species that appeared to be headed for extinction in Vermont. For example, Vermont’s populations of white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, bear, and wild turkey, are now restored to abundant numbers.
“We can thank our sportsmen and women for their continuing efforts to ensure the wise use and proper management of our fish and wildlife resources,” said Commissioner Berry. “And we can also thank them for providing most of the funding for the fish and wildlife conservation programs here in Vermont and throughout the United States.”
The program was jumpstarted in 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act), which raises funds through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition.
In 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (also known as the Dingell-Johnson Act) was enacted. This law provides funds for fish conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each state through an excise tax on fishing and boating equipment and fuels.
Both sources of federal funding, coupled with license dollars, continue to pay for most of the fish and wildlife conservation work done by state fish and wildlife agencies throughout the country.
Congress established National Hunting and Fishing Day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in fish and wildlife conservation. Since launching in 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day has been formally proclaimed annually by every U.S. President.
“National Hunting and Fishing Day gives us a chance to reflect on the foresight of generations of hunters and anglers who have worked ceaselessly to protect the resources we all enjoy,” said Commissioner Berry. “We can use Saturday as an opportunity to enjoy firsthand the legacy they have created and that we all must work together to preserve.”
To learn more about fish and wildlife conservation in Vermont, go to www.vtfishandwildlife.com. For more information about National Hunting and Fishing Day, check in at www.NHFDAY.org. And for detailed information about the federal Sportfish and Wildlife Restoration program, go to: http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/ .