State Views: New group aims to tell good story behind hunting
Here in southern Wisconsin and throughout the state, we are blessed to have access to some of the world's most beautiful lands and waters. Janesville families can enjoy Gibbs Lake Park and Rotary Botanical Garden.
Other destinations with great public access for all types of outdoor recreation are within driving distance for residents who want to travel Wisconsin for birding, fishing, sightseeing, hiking and other healthy activities. And as the hunting season approaches, we'll be seeing more camouflage outfits and blaze orange outerwear.
What most people don't see, even though it ripples through neighborhoods in Janesville and other communities throughout America's Dairyland, is the economic impact of nearly 900,000 people who hunt in Wisconsin.
Whether or not you hunt, there's no denying the positive benefits hunters have on conservation and the economy. Recent studies revealed that hunting adds a $4 billion ripple effect to Wisconsin's economy. Each hunter in Wisconsin spends an average of $2,800 a year on the sport, according to the U.S. Census Bureau study with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Hunters are not just spending this money at sporting goods stores; they are spending it at gas stations, hotels and resorts, restaurants, cafés and more, here and across the state.
That spending affects almost everyone. Hunters in Wisconsin support 34,000 jobs and pay $228 million in state and local taxes.
In an effort to share this great news with Gazette readers, as well as other citizens and policymakers in Wisconsin, a new partnership was formed, known as Hunting Works For Wisconsin. The partnership facilitates a dialogue between hunters, business owners, conservation groups, policymakers and anyone interested in why hunting is critical to conservation, the continued success of our local economies and the future of wildlife and healthy outdoor activities that connect families with their environment.
The ones probably most directly affected by hunting are those who need it most. Take a drive through western Wisconsin during hunting season, and you will see orange sign after orange sign welcoming hunters. Many of these small towns and the independently owned businesses in them depend on hunters to boost their bottom lines during hunting season.
This is the untold story that Hunting Works For Wisconsin is here to tell. Our partners have come together to be a unified voice for hunters and shooters because the money they spend impacts everyone in our state, hunters and nonhunters alike.
Mark LaBarbera is a hunter and founder of the Outdoor Heritage Education Center group, based in Hazel Green, is co-chair of Hunting Works for Wisconsin, and a member of the Wisconsin Sporting Heritage Council and Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Board of Directors. Readers can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.