Proud to be a hunter: The economics of conservation

Posted on: June 14, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

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Hunting funds the conservation of wildlife in America.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of giving my money away doesn’t get me out of bed at 4 a.m. on a cold winter’s day. Or even a warm spring one, for that matter.

The chance to see and perhaps shoot a buck or gobbler? That’s another story.

Doing one helps me do the other, though.

Hunters are a huge economic force in America. They support not only manufacturers and retailers, but wildlife itself, too. License dollars and excise taxes collected on gear help wildlife agencies create habitat and protect species.

What’s that add up to in a year’s time? Even more than most sportsmen might imagine, I’d wager.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation a while back came out with a list of reasons why hunters should be proud of what they do. It contained 17 items.

One mentioned the health benefits of hunting, such as access to organic and nutritious meat. Another mentioned how it teaches responsible gun ownership. A third mentioned its continuation of “beloved” traditions.

What really stands out, though, are the economics.

According to the groups’ list, America’s 20 million hunters spend nearly $40 billion annually to purchase licenses, gear, paying for gas, buying dinner, etc. That works out to $8 million a day and supports up to 700,000 jobs.

Of that, $800 million is spent on license and permit sales alone, with that money going “directly to state wildlife agencies to preserve wildlife and their habitat.” Excise taxes on firearms and ammunition raise another $371 million annually for wildlife restoration.

Talk about big spenders.

“Sportsmen and women are the largest contributors to conservation, bar none,” their information reads.

Remember that the next time someone who doesn’t hunt challenges you on why you do.

Are they paying for the wildlife they say they love, too, at that level?

I’d guess not.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.