With numbers equal to the population of the entire state of California, those who fish and hunt in the United States are an enormous force. And the numbers are increasing for the first time in years, with an 11-percent surge in anglers.
Those are among the facts I heard only moments ago, as I write, at the annual Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus briefing here in Washington D.C.
Based on preliminary results of a five-year U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Report, more data will be available in coming weeks, but those who spoke at the briefing made clear that the caucus is keen to emphasize that America’s sportsmen are “Fueling the American Economy,” as a slick flyer on all chairs in the briefing room had it.
Speakers included CSC co-chair on the Democratic side, Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Republican co-chair Sen. John Thune (South Dakota). Tester noted of preliminary figures on expenditures to fish and hunt: “The numbers are staggering.”
A few more comparisons we heard at this briefing to drive home Tester’s point:
• Sportsmen spend $90 billion annually in this country, more than the combined 2011 global revenues for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
• Anglers spent $12 billion on boats and related equipment in 2011, more than the global revenues for Starbucks that year.
• Via excise taxes on equipment, fees for licenses and stamps and sportsmen’s generous support of conservation organizations, sportsmen bankroll conservation to the tune of $3 billion each year.
• The $22 billion that anglers spent on fishing-trip-related expenses in 2011 is twice the total movie box-office receipts that year.
I expect to hear more this evening about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and Foundation’s support for the landmark Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, an unprecedented package of 19 bipartisan bills designed to benefit those who fish and hunt in this country, which passed in the House on Sept. 17 and is now waiting for action in the Senate.