New hunting group puts sights on Utah economy
When it comes to Utah's outdoors, hunting is king. At least in terms of dollars and cents. At least in the last two years.
The economic impact of hunting in Utah surpassed that of fishing in 2011, despite the state's anglers outnumbering hunters 2-1. Hunters also spend more than double what anglers spend on their sport annually. Since 2001, hunting throughout the West has put billions into state and local economies in taxes from outdoor sports.
Wildlife managers and other Utah leaders gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday to unveil the state chapter of Hunting Works for Utah, the seventh state added to the national organization.
"It's kind of a grass-roots kind of an organization to connect all these people that economically benefit from hunting," said Roger Schneidervin, the new group's co-chair and former Division of Wildlife and Resources employee.
The group has 30 partners throughout the state, ranging from gunmaker Browning to Cary's Designs Floral shop in Spanish Fork.
Wait, how in the world do florists benefit from hunting? It's quite simple, Schneidervin said.
"If I'm gonna go on a hunt where I'm gonna be gone for a while, I buy my wife flowers before I break the news to her that I drew a Book Cliffs elk tag and she's not going to see me for three weeks," he said.
Speakers for the new group, including Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, and directors of chambers of commerce, said the hunting impact equates to jobs and wages in every sector of the economy. The group will use influence to tout hunting as a boon to the state economy.
Outdoor sports have fluctuated in the past few decades in numbers, while the amount people are spending has increased. In 2011, hunters spent close to $500 million on trips and equipment, an average of $2,334 per hunter, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Compare that to hunters in Utah spending about $886 per person. Still, the state ranks middle of the pack in most categories regarding outdoor sports and economic impact. Utah is 34th in the nation for hunting and angling participants with 493,000 in 2011, according to the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.