Celebrate National Hunting, Fishing Day on Sept. 26

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources encourages Alabamians to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 26 by spending time outdoors. Many opportunities are available, including fishing at an Alabama state lake or state park or participating in a dove shoot.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to celebrate conservation successes of hunters and anglers. It is observed on the fourth Saturday of every September.

Since the turn of the 20th century, hunters and anglers have been the leaders in nearly all major conservation programs. These conservationists are responsible for the founding of state fish and game departments in all 50 states. Hunters and anglers asked that they be required to buy licenses themselves and that the money collected be used to support state conservation agencies. This is how the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources receives most of its funding.

“Many people don’t realize that the Department of Conservation does not receive operating money from the State General Fund,” Governor Bob Riley said. “The hunters and anglers of this state pay for wildlife conservation through the purchase of their licenses and equipment, such as archery bows, firearms, ammunition, fishing rods, reels and tackle.”

Each year, nearly $200 million in hunters’ federal excise taxes are distributed to state agencies to support wildlife management programs, the purchase of lands open to hunters, and hunter education classes. This money is dispersed to states using a formula that matches federal dollars to state dollars. This system of conservation funding now generates more than $1.7 billion per year, benefiting all who appreciate wildlife and wild places. Hunting’s direct economic impact to Alabama’s economy is approximately $840 million annually.

Hunter-financed programs have led to the dramatic comeback of many species that appeared to be headed for extinction at the turn of the century. In Alabama, this includes populations of white-tailed deer, wild turkey and bald eagles. These species are now restored to the healthy and abundant numbers they once enjoyed.

“Keep the tradition of outdoors recreation alive by enjoying it with your family on National Hunting and Fishing Day, Sept. 26, 2009. For detailed information on opportunities, go to www.outdooralabama.com or pick up a free Hunting and Fishing Digest at retailers across the state,” Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley said.