Friday, February 28, 2020

I'm back. But I never left. And we are in a crisis.

We are in the midst of a crisis.
I know we hear that a lot. There is a reason. When we are told that something is in such dire circumstances that the scenario is at a tipping point to where only a correction made immediately is the only way to have favorable results or everything is lost, it instills action.
Climate change is an example. We have an entire generation that is being taught blindly that without something changing last week that the earth can only survive for a little over a decade. The sense of urgency is important to create change. That sense is usually brought on by fear of something undesirable.
You can even hear it in sports. If a team isn’t performing well and it is approaching midseason, you will hear mention of the moment being critical, whether it be the second half of an important game, the upcoming game, or the next series of games. Crisis mode has been created to put a sense of urgency and complete focus onto something in order to create the change needed to be successful in the team’s goals.
Well, we are in crisis mode in the hunting and fishing community. This crisis is not only bad for the hunting and fishing community, but for natural resources and wildlife as well.
Two decades ago, North Carolina had 399,045 licensed hunting and fishing individuals that created just under $9 million in gross revenue. South Carolina had 263,045 creating $6.7 million. The United States in whole reported 15.7 million licensed hunters and anglers resulting in $688 million.
These monies are important. License sales go to protecting endangered and threatened species, providing habitat for those species, as well as employing officers that focus strictly on those activities.
By contrast, last year North Carolina had 592,564 licensed hunters and anglers bringing in $10.3 million in revenue to go to those activities. South Carolina had 200,912 licensed individuals resulting in $8.6 million. The US as a whole? 15.5 million with $896.4 million revenue.
While we have seen growth in numbers for both NC and SC in licensed outdoorsmen, the United States has lost numbers. We haven’t even mentioned the cost differences from twenty years ago.
North Carolina also increased population by nearly 3 million people over that same time period. For North Carolina, the licensed individuals (I keep mentioning it this way because looking at only license sales doesn’t give a perfect number as many people have multiple licenses) kept up with the population growth. South Carolina on the other hand, lost 62,000 licensed individuals over twenty years while having a population increase of 1.3 million.
South Carolina is an example of what is happening across the country.
With a loss of 2 million hunters and anglers in the US over the twenty-year period while having a population increase of over 50 million, we are losing the ability to protect these species and habitats as we need to. License sales used to nearly supply all the revenue needed. The outdoors community was a self-funded endeavor. Now, we have bipartisan bills in congress providing monies from the general funds as well as allowing more freedom in the uses of monies from past legislation such as that from the Pittman-Robertson act to both protect the species and encourage and recruit new hunters and anglers.
With a world that has increasingly pulled youth to new activities (specialized sports and training, television and video games to name a few), and an older generation that has increased responsibilities and longer work hours in a faster running world, we will all suffer.
The monies in the past helped turn around the potential losses of species such as whitetail deer and Canadian geese to where they are plentiful and thriving. Now, we may end up seeing species suffer.
And this is a true crisis for everyone.