Why Connecticut Needs More Hunters and Anglers
In last year’s message I wrote about the amazing contribution that hunters and anglers make in supporting conservation through the purchase of licenses and gear. I showed that all of this revenue comes back to our Agency and is used to fund fish & wildlife programs. That revenue from sportsmen accounts for approximately 85% of the annual Bureau of Natural Resources budget. And most importantly, that all Connecticut residents, particularly sportsmen, should be proud of what they’ve achieved in conserving fish and wildlife populations and habitat in Connecticut.
But it’s not just about the money! Conservation of our fish and wildlife and our natural landscape is a quality of life issue that affects not only us but our children and all subsequent generations. Our collective ability to succeed in conserving critical habitat for fishing, hunting, or just enjoying nature is a function of having both the financial resources and the political will to get the job done and done right. The funding provided by sportsmen is our foundation but it’s the large number of hunters and anglers, found across all walks of life in Connecticut that is the engine that makes all of this possible.
We cannot afford to take for granted that our success will continue. The number of licensed sportsmen hunting and fishing in Connecticut each year has declined from about 300,000 in the early 1990s to around 200,000 today. The engine is beginning to lose some of its steam. And this trend could continue over the next ten years as more and more baby boomers retire, become less active in the outdoors, or move out of the state.
The importance of hunters and anglers is far greater than their numbers alone. Sportsmen spend a huge amount of time in the woods and on the waters learning in detail what they need to know to be successful. In the process they absorb a great deal of knowledge on how natural systems work and develop an instinctive feel for what is truly needed to conserve fish and wildlife. Along with this comes a passion for wild places and, oftentimes, a lifelong commitment to hunting and fishing traditions and to environmental stewardship. In short, these sportsmen become the public’s most knowledgeable, passionate, and effective conservationists.
This is why our Agency is investing so deeply in Conservation Education/Firearms Safety courses, Aquatic Resource Education courses, youth hunting days, trout parks, community fishing areas, free fishing days, and Hunting & Fishing Appreciation Day. We know how important hunting, fishing and the outdoors are to us, we understand how important these are to all of you, and we want to be certain that the engine for conservation and hunting and fishing traditions runs strong and long into the future.
So please join me in making a pledge for 2014 to introduce someone to hunting, take a kid fishing, buy someone a license, invite a non-member to your club, and to stay engaged in important conservation issues.
Thank you and best wishes for a great year of hunting and fishing in Connecticut!
William A. Hyatt
Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.