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Newsletter - Animal Writes © sm
14 July 1999 Issue

The Economics of Hunting
By Wapiti455@aol.com

The second most used excuse by hunters for their cruel sport is economics.
The contribution of hunters to our economy.

No one denies the impact hunters have. With some 14 million hunters in the country their economic impact is not to be ignored. But letís look at it objectively and see if this really is the boon that the hunters claim.

Hunters spend billions of dollars annually to pursue and kill game. According to the Wall Street Journal, more money is spent by hunters than by golfers and football players combined. The number of armed persons taking to the woods and fields each year exceeds the number of the worldís top three armies combined. Hunters not only spend money on licenses, firearms, ammunition and archery tackle, but on travel accommodations, meals, accessories, clothes and vehicles. Indeed, hunting is not a cheap pastime.

The state of Wisconsin, one of the top 5 states for deer hunting, estimates that $750 is spent for every deer killed by hunters. A big deer will yield about 90 lb. of edible meat, so venison ranks right up there as one of the most expensive ways to eat. Quail has been estimated to cost up to $10 per OUNCE!!!!!

When I was hunting, it was not unusual for me to spend $3000-5000 per year on hunting and the associated travel and accommodation expenses. And I was certainly not one of the more extravagant hunters.

So what happens if we end hunting? Will we be cast into a great depression? Will the world economy collapse as we know it? Not at all.

The money spent by hunters is discretionary income spending. The same
money all of us spend to one degree or another. This is the same money used to go to the movies, eat out at restaurants, buy luxuries for our homes or take a vacation. It is the power windows in our cars, the second VCR in the den, and the self propelled lawn mower.

Take away hunting, and the hunters will spend their money elsewhere. Unless they choose to burn the money they spent on hunting, the money will not disappear from the economy but be spent elsewhere. Though I spent thousands each year hunting, and no longer do so, I have no more loose change than I ever did. The money is still there and is still being spent. And though my former outfitter in Montana may notice the difference, so does the local feed store proprietor who sells me food for wild animals and straw for the enclosures at SHARKís wildlife rehab center. The money is still there!!!!!

Hunters will claim that rural areas will be devastated. Not so. A portion of that money will be used to buy food that was previously provided by hunting (or so we are told) and that money will go directly to the rural economies in their main line of business. The hunters could still spend money in rural areas for camping, hiking, and other rural outdoor activities........no one is suggesting they stop that.

And the injection of funds formerly spent on hunting into other areas of the
economy would allow others to enjoy these outdoor activities without killing even if the hunters themselves donít.

Absent the hunterís pressure for more animals to shoot (targets), game
departments will resort to natural forms of animal population control and the overpopulation of deer caused by hunters will gradually disappear. The resulting reduction in crop damage will make up for the loss of funds from hunters, very little of which went to individual farmers anyway.

Companies that sell hunting accessories also make other sporting equipment and can take up the slack with increased sales of non-hunting equipment. Even firearms companies can promote target shooting and sell their firearms to non-hunters. Less than 20% of firearms owners are hunters at any rate.

Faced with this argument, hunters will tell you that they DONíT spend all that much on hunting. That hunting is a cheap way to get food. OK, but then they cannot have the economic impact they claim and would actually be a drain on rural economies by providing themselves with their own food, rather than buying the produce of farmers. As usual, when faced with logical arguments the hunters try to have it both ways.

Hunting is not essential to wildlife management, nor is it essential to our
economy. These are smokescreens put up to confuse the non-hunter as to the real intentions of hunters.

The author is a former hunter with 33 years of hunting experience in N. America for big game and small. The author is a certified hunter education instructor in 4 states, and now devotes his time to helping animals, and exposing the myths of hunters.

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