You may be surprised to learn that, despite the fact that more than 38 million Americans hunt and fish, fewer than 4% of Alabama residents purchased a hunting license last year. Although that percentage actually contributes $1.1 billion to the economy — the majority of which stays local — hunting isn’t as popular as it once was.
This number is alarming to experts at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. In order to protect and maintain wildlife and their habitats, the department relies on fees from hunting licenses, rather than state taxes. Considering how many species of wild animals call Alabama home, outdoor management requires a hefty budget.
Though hunting has been on the decline throughout the U.S., the majority of Alabama hunters are taken aback by the low number of licenses being purchased on a yearly basis. But Alabamian hunters are in the minority these days, so many local businesses, sporting organizations, and tourism groups have formed a coalition called Hunting Works For Alabama in order to highlight the important impact hunting has on the local economy.
At a recent press conference, Hunting Works For Alabama broke down the numbers. Out of the 535,000 people who hunt in Alabama every year, 44,000 come to hunt from other states. In fact, out-of-state hunters spend $405 million per year on their trips and expenses that stem from them. Another $357 million is spent on hunting equipment. This all means that the typical hunter spends around $1,700 per year in Alabama. Every year, hunters also account for $104 million in both local and state taxes. And on top of that, hunters are doing their part to support the job market: rough estimations report that $613 million in wages and salaries are paid every year for hunting-related jobs. Altogether, even that measly sounding less-than-4% translates to a $1.8 billion ripple effect for the economy.
In addition to the considerable positive impact hunting has on Alabama’s economy — which supports both hunters and non-hunters — the coalition wants to stress that hunting has a positive impact beyond the financial. There’s a prevailing idea that hunting hurts our environment, but in truth, the money hunters spend on licenses, stamps, and taxes on equipment all goes towards conservation. Pam Swanner, co-chair of Hunting Works For Alabama, adds that “hunters are the people paying to keep the outdoors wild and free for everyone else.” Not only does hunting protect the job market and the economy, but it helps preserve the natural beauty of our state.
Hunting Works For Alabama hopes that by highlighting the economical and ecological importance of hunting, they are able to increase interest and participation in the sport. The creation of the coalition is already raising awareness about how hunting helps Alabama, but they’re optimistic they can turn that understanding into action.