You can criticize your angler neighbor for pursuing her favorite hobby, but keep in mind the revenues generated from her outdoor sport support lake and river protection more substantially than any other group that exists.
Minnesota allocates less than one percent of its general fund to the Department of Natural Resources, but more than $159 million is generated by fishers and hunters buying proper stamps and licenses. That money then goes directly to managing and protecting fish and wildlife resources. Minnesota also ranks third in the United States for jobs supported by fishing with more than 43,000.
I recently spoke with DNR Lake and Stream Program Manager Al Stevens, and he helped explain to me how essential fishing and hunting are to supporting our water resources.
"The biggest elephant in the room is that anglers and hunters are the ones that do the most to support our environment," Stevens said. "They are the ones that show up, and they are the ones that put their money towards preservation."
He explained that these people love the environment just as much as anyone and they don't want to go outside and see these areas disappearing or see these areas polluted. I think he makes a great point. To be fair, I also think there are a few anglers and hunters that pursue their passions without considering the environment as much as necessary, but this handful shouldn't be considered the norm.
"People who say that hunting and fishing do not support the environment are blowing it out their nose," Stevens said. "They haven't read anything on the subject and clearly have no idea what they are talking about."
This year, even in tough economic times, fishing license sales have been on the rise. In the first quarter of 2009, license sales were up 11 percent from last year and signs suggest that trend will continue. So not only does that mean Mother Nature is getting even more funding for preservation, but also it means that when budget-cutting governments across the country have put environmental funding on the chopping block, we still have the support of more anglers to come to the rescue. You can argue that recreational fishing can hurt fish populations, but with limits on size and quantity, these claims don't carry much weight.
"Fish eat fish, why can't we?" Stevens said. "Wolves eat deer so why can't I? I could go on for hours about this, but I won't. The bottom line is that fishing and hunting support the environment more than anyone else."
Photo: Rob Hoffman