The Economics Of Hunting
(Originally published in the Merritt News)

© By Othmar Vohringer


It is my opinion that if we want our heritage to survive into a prosperous future we must educate the average man, women and child on the street, in the schools and in their homes via the media. It is these people, the majority, which have no opinion on hunting that could become our biggest allies on the ballot box.

Recently I came upon some information about the economic impact hunting has in North America and decided that I should write about it so that other hunters can see too what good we hunters do for our countries economy and wildlife conservation in general.

With the ongoing bashing of our hunting tradition by politically motivated radical groups and organizations that portray hunters as beer-swigging redneck slobs and trigger happy morons that are just as capable of killing a human as they are an animal it might be time to set the record straight and provide some heavy weight ammunition, no pun intended, to combat the slanderous comments the antis loudly proclaim.

Here are some interesting figures published by the Congressional Sportsman's Foundation:
34 million Americans hunt and, or fish. Together these sportsmen and women pour 76 billion dollars annually into the economy and give 1.6 million people jobs. Eight out of ten voters in America are hunting and/or fishing. This is a significant number of people that could produce a significant political clout on the ballot box provided they make use of their right to vote during the presidential election and make their voices heard at the local level on hunting and fishing issues.

Do you think that tennis and skiing are popular? Yes they are but hunting and fishing are more popular; more people hunt and fish than play tennis or ski. If all the hunters in America would decide to move to New York and Los Angeles, everyone else in these cities would have to move out to make room for all the hunters. Everyone knows that NASCAR is very big and popular but not as big and popular as hunting. If all the hunters and fishermen in America would attend a NASCAR race they would fill out every single seat at the track – not once but 13 times.

According to the Congressional Sportsman's Foundation, if we just took the hunters in America and created a corporation to receive all the revenue generated from hunting, that corporation would be listed in the top twenty of Fortune 500. If the fishers would be added to that corporation they would have a financial net-worth of that of Microsoft, Google, E-Bay and Yahoo (76 billion versus 73.6 billion) combined. Very impressive don’t you think? And that is only America. Add to this Canada with similar figures and heck, why not Mexico too, and you are talking about some serious money here. Why Canada and Mexico too, you might ask. The hunting heritage is a North American tradition that is shared by all hunters in these three countries and so are the efforts of wildlife and habitat conservation. Here is another bit of good news that came from the same survey: the vast majority of Americans support legal hunting and more than 95% support legal fishing. Compare that to the minuscule 3% that subscribe to the animal rights agenda. Most of these 3% are not consistent in their animal rights beliefs and only a handful of them are activists.

But the hunters financial, material and physical input does not end with the dollars generated through the purchase of hunting goods and license fees. The survey tells us that the vast majority of hunters in America are active members of such notable organizations as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants For Ever, Trout Unlimited plus a long list of equally important national and local wildlife conservation organizations and clubs that generate additional billions directly earmarked of wildlife and habitat restoration. Many hunters and fishers are members in more than one such organization and club. Hunters and fishers are also the folks that almost exclusively donate their own time and personal efforts in various programs provided by organizations and wildlife agencies to actively get involved in wildlife and nature stewardship.

In short, the report shows very clearly that no single person or organization does more for wildlife and habitat than hunters and fishers. These efforts can be enjoyed by all people, including the anti hunters and animal rights folks. The quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” seems also very appropriate to what the hunters and fishers do for the rest of society. The fact is that if it weren’t for the actions and dollars of hunters and fishers the elk, turkey, ducks, geese, salmon and trout would have gone a long time ago the way of the Dodo. The same is true for the many state parks and other publicly accessible lands; it is the hunters and fishers that keep these lands and water bodies open to the public with money and personal efforts.

So next time you see a TV show where animal rights protest against hunting or ridicule hunters in slanderous ways, remember that this is not the big picture. Also remember that PETA and the likes spend less than 0.2% of the millions they make annually on wildlife and habitat conservation. Remember that these folks do not speak for the majority of the American people even if they make it sound like they do. It’s also worth knowing that some jurisdictions that have in the past adopted some of the animal rights agenda on wildlife and habitat conservation have had to regret the negative consequences it had on wildlife and the environment.

Next time you see a flock of ducks or geese flying south thank the hunters. The next time you hear the thunderous gobble of a turkey or the bugle of a bull elk remember that hunter’s dollars and their personal efforts saved these species from certain extinction and not the animal rights groups. Next time you hike in a state park and admire the beauty of nature and wildlife thank the hunters whose money makes sure that parks stay open to the public and remain safe from developers. If it were not for hunter dollars much of the public land we take for granted only could be kept open through drastic increases of taxes or making visitors paying an entry free.

As you surely have figured out by now the abundant wildlife that makes North America one of the ecologically richest areas in the world is the direct result of our hunting heritage and the hunter’s active commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation.

Looking at the above dollar figures and comparing them to that of the animal rights movement it amazes me that we seem to have such a struggle against the anti hunting lobby. Perhaps we should learn from the animal rights groups how to promote our heritage in the media. Animal rights groups get heard in the media because they know how to make it work for them. To use a quote of Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) “We are absolute media whores.” Indeed, the animal rights movement spends the lion’s share of their dollars on promoting their agenda in the media, the schools and in the communities.

My suggestion is that our hunting industry and the various hunter-founded organizations actively go public with their efforts in the mainstream media to promote our cause to the communities at large. While everybody knows who PETA is you will be hard pressed to find a member of the general public that knows anything about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation let alone knowing what these and many other fine hunter founded organizations do for our wildlife and habitat.

I am convinced that if the hunting industry and the large organizations would get together and invest just a comparatively small sum of the multi-billion dollars to “advertise” in the mainstream media and promote our cause in the schools on a national level we could silence the animal rights movement and make their threat to our heritage a thing of the past. It is my opinion that if we want our heritage to survive into a prosperous future we must educate the average man, women and child on the street, in the schools and in their homes via the media. It is these people, the majority, which have no opinion on hunting and could become our biggest allies on the ballot box. Isn’t it about time that the general public heard the full truth and not just the lies and deception of the animal rights activists?

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