Hunters and fishermen contribute to wilderness and habitat conservation
Saturday, September 28, 2019, was this year’s National Hunting and Fishing Day. Hunters and fishermen contribute to keeping our natural environment healthy and beautiful with their license purchases and volunteer work. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife honored these contributions by publishing some rarely gathered data related to the financial and economic effects of hunting and fishing on California wildlife areas and habitats.
Since President Richard Nixon proclaimed the first National Hunting and Fishing day in 1972, the number of hunters and fishermen has slowly but steadily declined. This trend has not yet stopped. Fewer hunters and fishermen are taking advantage of the many unique fishing and hunting opportunities California has to offer. Thus, dwindling numbers of hunters and fishermen pose a grave risk to the funding of conservation and wildlife management activities.
To slow and, hopefully, reverse this trend, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is participating in a nationwide campaign to recruit new hunters, retain and reactivate hunters and anglers on the license rolls. The program is known as R3 effort to convert barriers to outdoor activities into opportunities.
The concerted nationwide effort is particularly important in light of the growing anti-hunting and fishing forces worldwide. The enemies of hunting and fishing are pursuing a strategy of eliminating individual activities one at a time before they attempt to reach their ultimate goal of abolishing hunting and fishing altogether. Hunting is particularly vulnerable to this strategy because hunters are individualists and not exactly known for their ability to seek strength in numbers. Maybe it is time for hunters and anglers to rethink their defenses against this onslaught. In California, CDFW, hunters, and anglers are natural allies in the battle to preserve our right to hunt and fish.
California is the third-largest state of the Union. Approximately 50 percent of the state is public land with wilderness, wildlife reserves, and designated special hunting and fishing areas. CDFW, therefore, has millions of acres of land suited for hunting to offer.
Anglers can use over 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,172 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers for their hobby. Moreover, our state also features over 1,100 miles of coastline on the Pacific Ocean and around islands just off the coast of California.
In 2018, CDFW issued 1.77 million fishing licenses. The fishing licenses (including report cards and validations) generated $66.9 million for fisheries management and protection.
Fisheries management and conservation activities have resulted over the years in numerous success stories for various species around the state, including wild trout, landlocked salmon, Largemouth Bass, and the Alabama Spotted Bass. Funds from the sale of fishing licenses contributed significantly to the successful restoration of wild trout, landlocked salmon, Largemouth Bass, and the Alabama Spotted Bass.
Two ‘free fishing days’ a year are intended to introduce interested parties to fishing in all its incarnations. Finally, let us not forget that CDFW operates numerous fish hatcheries for the benefit of anglers. In 2018, the facilities produced millions of pounds of trout to stock state waters for recreational angling.
In 2018, 269,277 licensed hunters contributed about $ 26.2 million dollars to wildlife management and conservation. These funds resulted in success stories for many formerly troubled species in the state, such as, for example, Tule elk, wild turkeys, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Aleutian Canada Goose, and numerous ducks among others.
At this time, many hunting and fishing seasons are open. Hunters can harvest lean, antibiotic-free protein sources. such as wild trout and other fish, deer, bear, dove, tree squirrel, rabbit and upland game for their table while enjoying at the same time our state’s wonderful wilderness and wildlife areas.
So, my friends, next time you encounter a grumpy game warden who seems to be looking just for an excuse to issue a ticket, remember the excellent work CDFW and its employees are doing for hunters, anglers, the environment, and wildlife habitats. Give him or her a break and consider that he may have had to spend the night on the couch, maybe, just maybe. After all, game wardens are human and face human difficulties once in a while as we all do.
Furthermore, you can support the outstanding job CDFW is doing by purchasing a hunting or fishing license, take a hunter education course, visit the CDFW website to learn about fishing and hunting. If you need personal attention, contact your local CDFW office or the statewide R3 coordinator for help in getting started.
Complete information on hunting and fishing in California is on the CDFW website wildlife.ca.gov. Information on hunter education is at wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. Need to purchase a hunting or fishing license? Go to wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales.
There is no valid reason why Californians could not enjoy our national parks, wildlife areas, fishing and diving, and hunting. It is all available to you for very little money. Not into hunting and fishing but rather would take pictures of wildlife or do some wilderness camping? Why not. The snakes are waiting for you.
Public lands are open to you and your hobbies as well.