The anti-hunter argument that an animal can be watched hundreds of times but killed only once, therefore wildlife watching is better for the economy than hunting is absolutely untrue.
While it is true that people who travel specifically to view birds, elk, bears, wolves, bison or other wild animals do help bolster local business where they go, they do not have anywhere near the nationwide economic impact that hunters do…for several reasons.
First is equipment…
The purchase of spotting scopes and binoculars to view wildlife does help the economy but it generates zero dollars for conservation, wildlife management or anything else that bolsters wildlife populations.
Hunters are also among those who make those same purchases to enjoy wildlife viewing and to assist them while hunting.
But other hunting equipment is an entirely different thing altogether.
Every time a hunter or a recreational shooter buys a gun, ammunition or archery equipment, not only is the economy positively impacted but there is an 11 percent excise tax on those purchases that is –by law– apportioned to each state’s fish and wildlife agency for wildlife conservation.
Since that tax was implemented in 1937, it has generated more than $12.5 billion dollars.
Second…licenses and fees.
There are no fees to view wildlife. On the other hand, licenses and fees are mandatory to hunt. And hunters pay $796 million annually to do so. That revenue funds state agencies and pays for salaries of their employees who oversee wildlife conservation.
Third…the big picture.
Research shows that in 2011, hunters and anglers combined to take more than 711 million trips and spent $90 billion along the way.
That includes $25 billion for trucks, ATVs, boats, cabins, etc., $11.6 billion for food and lodging, and $5.25 billion for shooting sports equipment.
Spending by hunters generated $5.4 billion in state and local taxes, a sum that could pay the wages of 113,000 firefighters or roughly 37 percent of all professional firefighters nationwide. If you add in federal taxes paid by hunters, the number doubles to $11.8 billion.
Here are some state-specific economy-boosting examples…
California has the largest population in the United States with more than 37 million people. Research shows 1.8 million Californians hunt or fish there in a single year and spend $3.5 billion dollars doing so.
Wyoming has the smallest population at about 578,000 yet 390,000 resident and non-residents hunt or fish there annually and generate $778 million for the state’s economy.
What’s the bottom line? When you take a step back and look at the big picture, two things are more than evident.
Hunters have a major beneficial impact on local, state and national economies.
And Hunting Is Conservation.