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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

September 17, 1998
Eric Eckl 202-208-5636


Although the number of anglers and hunters who bought licenses fell slightly from 1996 to 1997, their expenditures continued to rise, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

Anglers bought 29.3 million fishing licenses in 1997 compared with 29.9 million in 1996. These anglers paid $498.4 million for their licenses, tags, permits, and stamps, compared with $447 million in 1996. Meanwhile, 14.9 million hunters bought licenses in 1997, down from 15.2 million in 1996. However, they spent $564.9 million on licenses, up from $542.8 million the year before.

Revenues raised through license sales support state wildlife agencies, their conservation projects, and their hunting and fishing safety and education programs. "Through license sales alone, hunters and anglers contribute nearly $1 billion a year to wildlife conservation," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark. "That is money that doesn't come from general tax revenue, yet it benefits every American by promoting both a healthy environment and healthy wildlife. This money doesn't even count the hundreds of millions of dollars sportsmen and -women contribute through excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and donate to non-profit conservation organizations."

License sales figures are compiled annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from information submitted by state fish and wildlife agencies. The figures are part of a formula to determine the amount of funding each state receives through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration programs, both administered by the Service. Under these programs, hunters and anglers pay an excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment such as firearms, ammunition, and tackle. Using these receipts, the Service provides grants to states to conserve wildlife; teach hunter safety; and provide fishing, hunting, and boating opportunities. Sales of hunting licenses peaked at 16.7 million in 1982. Sales of fishing licenses have been steady over the same time period.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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