HUNTING -- Hunters are aware of their contributions to conservation and local economies, but the general public is not.
To help generate more understanding, a group of about 50 local and regional leaders representing sporting organizations, chambers of commerce, small businesses and retailers gathered in Spokane on Thursday, Sept. 10, to announced a new partnership called Hunting Works For Washington.
Hunting is a major driver of in-state commerce, contributing significant amounts of money to local economies and independent businesses, the group said in a media release.
"Hunting Works For Washington partners have come together in order to advocate on behalf of hunting and the shooting sports with a more unified voice," it said.
“I think Hunting Works For Washington has really hit on a topic that not many people are talking about,” said Scott Miller, owner of the Miller Ranch south of Cheney and a co-chair of Hunting Works For Washington.
“Our customers often travel considerable distances to hunt at our ranch, so not only is my businesses benefiting from hunters, but every business they touch on their way to me is seeing a benefit. That spending has a considerable impact, and when we are talking about supporting hunters and hunting we need to be mindful of that impact.”
Miller Ranch is one of Washington's most successful destinations for hunting pen-raised pheasants on a private hunting area.
According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the 219,000 people who hunt in Washington spend about $370 million a in connection with the sport.
Washington hunters spend more than $163 million on hunting trips and $156 million on equipment, the media release said.
“The money that hunters spend in my district is critical. It supports locally-owned businesses that support jobs and families,” said Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, one of the state Hunting Works co-chairs. “The economic impacts of hunting are felt throughout the state but especially in rural communities like those in the 7th District.”
As they purchase firearms and hunting equipment, hunters across the country also contribute to conservation. The Pittman-Robertson Act, hunters pay an 11 percent federal excise tax on equipment sales that is distributed back to the states for wildlife-related programs.
Through 2012, the tax had generated $8.1 billion passed on to state wildlife programs through this act.
Hunting Works For Washington partnership organizers say they launched with more than 50 partner organizations and will be adding more.
The group plans to monitor public policy decisions and weigh in on hunting-related issues that impact Washington jobs.
The announcement makes Washington one of 12 states to join the Hunting Works for America program founded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Other states with chapters are Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.