National Hunting and Fishing Day is Sept. 25
By Jeff Poet
On Saturday, Sept. 25, our country will celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day. Formalized by Congress in 1971 and signed as an official presidential proclamation in 1972, this annual occasion is a great opportunity to acknowledge all the benefits hunting and fishing provide to Michigan.
As an avid sportsman and former member of the Michigan Wildlife Council whose family business focuses on the outdoors, I’m proud to celebrate the time-honored traditions of hunting and fishing. On National Hunting and Fishing Day, I encourage my fellow Michiganders to join me in recognizing the tremendous contribution that hunting and fishing bring to the conservation of our natural resources and our economy.
Hunting and fishing fund conservation
Michigan’s hunters and anglers – not state tax dollars – are the primary source of conservation funding for the Great Lakes State. Licenses purchased by hunters and anglers generated an estimated $65.5 million for the Michigan Game and Fish Protection Fund in 2020. The fund is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ largest revenue source and is critical to its conservation work. The sale of fishing and hunting equipment raised an additional $29.4 million to support wildlife and natural resource management.
Conservation activities keep animal populations in balance, protect Michigan waters from habitat degradation and invasive species, safeguard the state’s forests to provide habitats for thousands of wildlife species and reduce the risk of wildfires and flooding.
All Michiganders benefit from these funds through better access to public lands, improved soil and water quality, habitat restoration and management, fish and wildlife research, boat launch and trail construction and many other projects.
Through the accomplishments of state and local conservationists, we can all be proud of our state’s many wildlife conservation successes, like the reintroduction of Rocky Mountain elk to Michigan over 100 years ago after near extinction, the restoration of Michigan’s wild turkey population from 2,000 in 1960 to 200,000 today, and the comeback of species such as the peregrine falcon, Kirtland’s warbler and lake sturgeon, which were nearly wiped from our state’s landscape in the last century.
The economic benefits
Along with conservation, hunting and fishing are significant economic drivers for our state. Combined, they generate $11.2 billion for Michigan’s economy every year and support 171,000 jobs, according to a 2019 study released by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs in partnership with Michigan State University.
Michigan is No. 1 among Great Lakes states for jobs created from hunting and fishing purchases. In every region of the state, the number of jobs created and supported by hunting and fishing puts the industry in the top 10% of job-creation industries. In addition, the industry contributes $3.3 billion in salaries and wages to Michigan households and has a $7.2 billion value-add to our state’s gross domestic product.
Hunting and fishing are part of our state’s DNA
Each of us has our own connections to Michigan’s wildlife and great outdoors through a favorite place, activity or memory shared with family and friends. Maybe it’s the time you caught your first fish or sighted your first deer. Maybe it’s an annual camping trip or a spot on a trail or dune where you proposed to the love of your life. Whatever the experience, time outdoors is precious and something we want to preserve for future generations.
My family has been in the Clare area for generations. My great-grandfather and my grandfather lived here as farmers and lived off the land. Hunting and fishing and a love for the land were always a part of our family. They passed that deep-rooted tradition down to my dad, and now I’ve passed it on to my sons and to my grandsons.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, join me in celebrating Michigan’s rich outdoor heritage and all the ways hunting and fishing contribute our state’s conservation efforts, economy and way of life.
Jeff Poet is president at Jay’s Sporting Goods and former vice chair of the Michigan Wildlife Council.