by Scott McClallen
About 1.7 million people contributed $66 million to wildlife and natural resource management last year by buying 2021 fishing and hunting licenses.
Those proceeds funded The Michigan Game and Fish Protection Fund – the Department of Natural Resource’s largest revenue source. Hunting and fishing equipment sales raised $32 million to support wildlife and natural resource management.
Nearly 272,000 Michigan residents and visitors purchased a fishing license for the first time in 2021, while sales to those in the 17-years to 24-years age group exceeded the three-year average of 125,427 to reach 129,553.
During a Free Fishing Weekend on June 11-12, Michigan and out-of-state residents can fish on inland water and the Great Lakes for all fish species without purchasing a fishing license. All fishing rules will still apply.
“First and foremost, fishing is fun. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors with friends and family, help children learn about nature and unplug from the stresses and demands of daily life,” Michigan Wildlife Council Chair Nick Buggia said in a statement.
Additionally, visitors don’t have to buy a state Recreation Passport for those two days to enter state parks and boating access sites or have a license or trail permit for off-road vehicles on state-designated trails.
“But many people don’t realize the impact fishing has on our entire state in terms of jobs, the economy and protecting our natural resources for everyone to enjoy,” Buggia said. “Conservation is primarily funded through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and equipment, not tax dollars. The more people we can get hooked on fishing, especially at a young age, the more it benefits everyone.”
Hunting and fishing have a combined $11.2 billion economic impact on Michigan and provide an estimated 171,000 jobs, according to a 2019 study from the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and Michigan State University.
Conservation balances animal populations, protect Michigan waters from habitat degradation and invasive species, and safeguard the state’s forests to provide habitats for thousands of wildlife species and reduce the risk of wildfires and flooding.
Outside of Free Fishing Weekend, those 17 years of age or older must purchase a license to fish in Michigan. Any adult actively assisting a minor must also be licensed. Fishing licenses can be purchased online or in person.
“Whether you hunt, fish or enjoy other activities like bird-watching, hiking, camping or canoeing, Michigan’s woods, water, parks and beaches connect all of us,” Buggia said. “Hunters and anglers are the driving force that helps preserve our precious Michigan outdoors for everyone to enjoy.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.