Across the county, deer hunters are gearing up in blaze orange for gun season. Waterfowlers are calling in ducks and wingshooters are training their dogs in the field.
According to the most recent data from the Fish & Wildlife Service, 15.5 million Americans went hunting in 2011. That number represents a 9% increase from just five years before. Wisconsin alone has 900,000 in-state hunters. Deer hunters are by far the most numerous, at 10.9 million nationwide, and all those hunters in the woods this fall will make a huge contribution to the economy.
The same FWS report from 2011 found that hunters spent around $38.3 billion on their sport. Between guns, ammunition, equipment, and other gear, the hunting industry has a significant impact on the national economy. Traveling hunters also support small businesses in rural communities. The vast majority of international trophy hunters come from the US, creating employment opportunities and boosting tourism in developing countries.
More importantly, American hunters enable conservation. In addition to the billions spent on equipment, hunters also provided an estimated $8 billion to own, lease and cultivate land for wildlife habitat. Conservation organizations, like SCI Foundation, are comprised of mostly hunters. Through donations, memberships, licenses, stamps, and taxes, hunters contribute a total of $3 billion to conservation annually! Revenue from taxes on guns and ammo, authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act, is funneled directly back to state conservation funds. In fact, without revenue from hunting, state wildlife agencies would lose the funding needed to run conservation efforts. For example, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries receives over two thirds of its budget from license sales and federal funds from taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. Thanks to this system of hunting and conservation, game populations and their habitat remain healthy in America. This model clearly demonstrates that hunting is conservation.
SCI Foundation focuses on wildlife research and management in our North America conservation program. Several of our key projects involve predator-prey interaction, including studies on Michigan whitetail deer, Newfoundland caribou and Montana elk. These research programs deliver better understanding of population dynamics for sound science-based management. We recently helped reintroduce Wood Bison to Alaska and Bighorn Sheep to Arizona with the plan of using regulated hunting as the primary management tool. We are also supporting research on populations of wolves, brown bear, black bear, mule deer, elk, and moose around the country. These projects provide us the science we need to conserve wildlife species and promote sustainable use hunting.
The American conservation movement was born from our hunting heritage. SCI Foundation is proud to be a part of that tradition and thanks you for supporting our wildlife conservation programs. Good luck to all those hunter-conservationists this upcoming deer season!
Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more SCI Foundation news.