In case you missed the first two parts of the series:
Part 1 – An Overview of Hunting in America
Part 2 – Wildlife Management
Welcome to Hunting in America. Today, in part three of our series, we will discuss the financial impact of hunting in the United States. Hunting plays an important part in powering our country’s economic engine, from sales of tags and licenses that help businesses and wildlife improvement efforts, to the jobs created by the popularity of outdoor activities. Hunting is a big business that can positively affect everyone’s lives.
Hunting is more popular now than ever before. Approximately 16 million people –14 million who are over the age of 16 — will hunt this year (1). The other 2 million under the age of 16 will of course be accompanied by a guardian, who will most likely be purchasing hunting equipment for them. That works out to about 6% of the total U.S. population. Even after considering other factors, such as limited access to hunting grounds in urban and metropolitan settings, the percentage of the population who are too young to hunt or who are past the age where most can comfortably enjoy hunting (80+), it is obvious that hunting is an extremely popular activity. In just 10 years, the total number of active hunters in the U.S. has increased by nearly 1 million, while hunting expenditures have gone up at least $10 billion during the same period.
Each of these sportsmen and women positively impact our economy through the purchase of tags, licenses, guns, ammunition, bows, gear, hunting trips (that pump money into local economies through meals, lodging, etc.), memberships, and the state and federal taxes that go along with those purchases (2).
In 2011, the money spent on all of these hunting products and activities added up to a total of $38.3 billion (3), with an economic multiplier effect (the final income arising from a new injection of spending) of $86.9 billion! That $38.3 billion in 2011 was more revenue than Google brought in for that same year. Sportsmen are spending an average of $8 million per day, an impressive total that few recreational industries can boast. When it comes to local economic impact, that amounts to $11.8 billion in state and federal tax revenues, annually.
While hunting boosts our economy, it also improves the lives of all Americans and the wildlife around us. In our previous section on wildlife management, we discussed the ways in which hunting dollars are circulated back toward habitat improvement efforts and ensuring the survival and prosperity of wildlife species. These dollars are also used to improve nature trails, campsites, and other outdoor sites made available for public use.
The hunting industry’s impact on jobs should also not be overlooked. Due to its popularity and revenue generation, hunting supports nearly 700,000 jobs in the U.S. These salaries and wages earned add up to $26.4 billion annually! Those staggering numbers point to hunting’s legitimacy as a force for good in our national and local economies.
Hunting remains under attack by animal rights activists, fueled by emotional rhetoric that ignores science and best practices. Activists claim that they are guided by their understanding of what is best for the animals, yet they fail to acknowledge the passion for the outdoors that unites sportsmen in an activity that ultimately has many benefits for wildlife and their natural habitats. This is what we know. Wildlife populations must remain in check for the sake of wild prey and predator, alike, while maintaining safety for animals and humans who live in close quarters with one another. That is why states place strict guidelines on each hunting season. If not for these rules, wildlife overpopulation would pose hazards to humans and the very animals, themselves.
Imagine if Wayne Pacelle, Ingrid Newkirk, and the animal rights brigade truly got their wish and all forms of hunting were outlawed in our society. We’d say goodbye to $38.3 billion per year in economic impact and countless ways in which wildlife habitats are improved through hunting dollars. The bottom line is that hunting boosts our economy, sustains good jobs, and funds critical wildlife and outdoor initiatives that preserve habitats for animals and hunting for future generations. Even the most impassioned animal rights supporters should find it difficult to logically argue against the merits of hunting in society — but it doesn’t stop them from trying.
And that’s why Protect The Harvest exists — to give the facts, cut through the fog of emotions and stand up for our heritage and our future.
Graphic via National Shooting Sports Foundation