GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., January 18, 2005 — Hiking, biking, skiing or enjoying a picnic lunch with family on public lands would not have been possible without the revenue and support of one of the largest groups of Americans supporting wildlife management and environmental conservation — sportsmen. That’s why a group of dedicated and concerned sportsmen have formed the Nimrod Society to encourage public education programs that tell the story of the positive impact that 47 million sportsmen have on conservation and wildlife management programs in the United States.
More than $108 billion is spent annually on wildlife related recreational activities according to the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These funds go toward state and federal conservation and wildlife management programs and are raised through license fees as well as state and federal taxes levied on company revenues and individual incomes from the sale of products and services to hunters and anglers.
“The general public is continually misled about the role sportsmen play in our society as a result of well-funded, effective marketing campaigns by a number of organizations that spend its members’ money by pushing its ideology of animal rights and not on concrete conservation programs,” said Alan Taylor, founder of the Nimrod Society and an avid sportsman who has hunted and fished on three different continents. “We want to see states and eventually the federal government adopt a self-sustainable educational effort about the true societal value of sportsmen precipitated through a mass media communications campaign aimed at telling the truth to the American public.”
Today, approximately 85 percent of all state fish and wildlife management agency budgets are a result of license fees and excise tax revenues on equipment levied on hunters and anglers. These tax revenues are a result of the 1938 Pittman-Robertson Act, which put an excise tax on hunting equipment and the taxes generated from fishing equipment as a result of the 1950 Dingell-Johnson Act and the 1984 Wallup-Breau Act.
Members of the Nimrod Society will be working to encourage legislators and state wildlife agencies to add a surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses with all revenue generated to be used on comprehensive, media-based, local, state and national public education programs. The group hopes that other states can adopt a similar model to the Public Education Advisory Council (PEAC) implemented in Colorado in 1998.
In 2005, PEAC will partner with the Colorado Department of Wildlife to seek legislation for a $.75 surcharge on all hunting and fishing license sales, which will generate approximately $1 million for the Colorado program annually for the direct financing of public education, public relations and marketing programs.
“In Pennsylvania alone there are 2.3 million anglers and hunters and a $.75 surcharge on licenses there could generate $1.7 million in funds for a proper education program,” said Bob Radocy, a founding member and director of the board for the Nimrod Society. “This is an extremely small surcharge for sportsmen to support considering hunters spend on average $1,581 a year on their sport and anglers spend $1,046 each year in licenses, equipment and supplies.”
Radocy added that 47 million sportsmen is a huge constituency; more than 13 million more people than the entire state of California. According to the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation, there are more than twice as many sportsmen than there are members of labor unions in the U.S., and that sportsmen support approximately 575,000 jobs in the U.S., more than Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer.
The Nimrod Society wants to protect the privileges of the nation’s sportsmen while continuing and advancing conservation and wildlife management education programs by educating non-sportsmen users of public lands and the general public o the positive role sportsmen play in wildlife conservation. For example, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reported that in 1900 there were less than 500,000 white-tailed deer in the U.S., and today there are more than 20 million, and the story is the same with antelope, elk and dozens of other species as a result of a managed program of legal recreational hunting and fishing.
A few other supporting facts according to the 1999 Book “Know Hunting, Truths, Lies & Myths” written by Dr. Dave E. Samuel, also a founding member of the Nimrod Society, Ducks Unlimited – a professional sportsmen’s organization – has protected, enhanced or restored more than 6 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats since 1937. Pheasants Forever, another professional sportsmen’s organization has saved or improved 545,000 acres since 1987 and Quail Unlimited has positively impacted 500,000 miles of habitat since 1985.
The list of conservation organizations made up of sportsmen is extensive and their accomplishments are the result of all-voluntary contributions.
“There are a lot of hunting and fishing organizations in this country protecting and conserving lands and species, but it is a story that goes untold each year,” said Taylor. “With the funds that can be generated on license surcharges, a positive educational campaign can be conducted to help the public understand and support the role sportsmen play in modern society and thus assuring the future of sporting activities in the United States.”
The Nimrod Society is a 501 (c) 3, non-profit organization aimed at encouraging state and federal wildlife management and conservation agencies to adopt self-sustaining revenue models to fund ongoing, comprehensive media based education campaigns targeted at the general public. The Nimrod Society was formed in 2003 and refers to the biblical name of Nimrod, the founder of Babylon and “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis:10:8-12).