Ad­vo­cacy group pro­motes hunt­ing’s eco­nomic im­pact

The Kent Island Bay Times - - School - [email protected]­pub.com [email protected] thekent­coun­tynews.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ad­vo­cat­ing the pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pact of the sport, has part­nered with more than 50 busi­nesses to pro­mote lo­cal spend­ing.

Dolores Jones, co-chair­man of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and co­or­di­na­tor Rob Sex­ton spoke last week with re­porters from APG Ch­e­sa­peake to raise aware­ness of the group that is part of the larger Hunt­ing Works For Amer­ica or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Hunt­ing Works For Amer­ica was launched by the Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion, which iden­ti­fies it­self as “the firearms in­dus­try trade as­so­ci­a­tion” and “has a mem­ber­ship of more than 11,000 man­u­fac­tur­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, firearms re­tail­ers, shoot­ing ranges, sports­men’s or­ga­ni­za­tions and pub­lish­ers.” Like Mary­land, the group has set up Hunt­ing Works ef­forts in states like Ohio, Michi­gan, New York and South Dakota.

In talk­ing about Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land, Jones, who also is the gen­eral man­ager for the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press in Ch­ester­town, said hunt­ing and shoot­ing sports bring in about $265 mil­lion in an­nual spend­ing. She said hunt­ing sea­son nor­mally brings a boom in the econ­omy.

“The money brought in by hunters can be re­ally crit­i­cal to many of our smaller, lo­cal economies. In these ar­eas, hunt­ing sea­son is the busiest time of year,” Jones said.

She spoke about the mid­week traf­fic she sees at the Hol­i­day Inn Ex­press that comes in dur­ing hunt­ing sea­son. She said 30 out of 81 rooms one night last week were oc­cu­pied by hunters.

Jones said about 88,000 peo­ple hunt in the state each year, 19,000 of which are Mary­land res­i­dents. Jones said hunt­ing es­sen­tials are more than just shot­gun shells.

“Folks are in town, they’re eat­ing din­ner, they’re buy­ing gas, they’re Christ­mas shop­ping; it’s a type of tourism that at this time of the year, im­pacts us greatly,” Jones said.

Jones said hunters spend $50 mil­lion on trip-re­lated ex­penses, in­clud­ing trav­el­ing, ho­tels, restau­rants and other costs. About $127 mil­lion is spent on hunt­ing equip­ment, ex­clu­sively. About $3,000 on av­er­age is what each hunter spends in the state, Jones said.

Shoot­ing and hunt­ing are both sports that di­rectly and in­di­rectly sup­port more than 4,500 jobs in Mary­land, Jones said. From us­ing money spent on trip-re­lated ex­penses at restau­rants, ho­tels or other es­tab­lish­ments, hunters are also pro­vid­ing an eco­nomic driver for other work­ers in the ar­eas they travel to.

Sex­ton said there were a lot of ex­penses to hunt­ing that are not of­ten thought about.

“We tend to think of the hunt­ing econ­omy as guns, camo and ammo, but it’s trucks and ATVs, tires on ATVs,” Sex­ton said. “The ex­pen­di­tures are pretty di­verse.”

Sex­ton de­scribed a rip­ple ef­fect hunters add to the econ­omy. He said when hunters stop some­where to eat, the restau­rant staff gets paid. He said that gives waiters and wait­resses money to spend, again pump­ing up the econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to an in­for­ma­tional brochure from Hunt­ing Works for Mary­land, that rip­ple ef­fect to­tals $401 mil­lion.

Along with unique spend­ing, Mary­land it­self is a unique des­ti­na­tion for hunters from Penn­syl­va­nia, New York and even Maine, Sex­ton said. The state is the only in the U.S. to of­fer hunt­ing for sika deer, along with bears in the west­ern part of the state, he said.

“Most hunters come from where the peo­ple live,” Sex­ton said. “They spend their money be­fore they leave town and they come to where they hunt and they spend a whole more. We tend to think of hunt­ing as a ru­ral pur­suit. Well, that’s where it takes place, but the money is spread from the home base to where they ac­tu­ally hunt.”

Jones and Sex­ton said Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land is not a lob­by­ing group. They de­scribed it as a mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion ef­fort, one Sex­ton said he hopes will pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cials need may need when mak­ing de­ci­sions.

“Hunt­ing Works For Mar yland part­ners have a story to tell about the im­por­tant eco­nomic chain in­volv­ing the hunt­ing and shoot­ing sports,” the group’s web­site states. “The Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land part­ner­ship will mon­i­tor pub­lic pol­icy de­ci­sions and weigh in on hunt­ing-re­lated is­sues that im­pact Mary­land jobs. Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land will serve as a ve­hi­cle to fa­cil­i­tate im­por­tant pub­lic pol­icy di­a­logue and to tell the story of how our hunt­ing her­itage pos­i­tively af­fects con­ser­va­tion and jobs through­out the state.”

In a news re­lease, Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land co-chair­man Deb Carter, a Ce­cil County res­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Camp­grounds, spoke about ed­u­ca­tional out­reach.

“More than 88,000 peo­ple hunt in Mary­land each year. Each of these hunters spends, on av­er­age, $3,000 a year. This spend­ing is felt through­out the econ­omy of Mary­land,” Carter said. “We are work­ing to­gether to ed­u­cate peo­ple about these num­bers and how hunters are di­rectly con­tribut­ing to our econ­omy.”

While Sex­ton spoke about the group’s goal of ex­pand­ing the stake­holder base, the Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land web­site paints a grim pic­ture in which com­mu­ni­ties may fail with­out hunters prop­ping up the econ­omy.

“Po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated an­ti­hunt­ing groups are grow­ing. Many would like to limit, make more ex­pen­sive and even ban hunt­ing. Their ac­tions are erod­ing our her­itage and dam­ag­ing state economies and lo­cal busi­nesses that de­pend on hunters for their liveli­hoods. All this is oc­cur­ring at a time when hunter num­bers are de­clin­ing, and, quite frankly, many of our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses will not sur­vive if hunter num­bers con­tinue to erode,” the web­site states.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Hunt­ing Works for Mary­land, visit hunt­ing­works foramer­ica.com/hunt­ing works­formd.

PHOTO BY DANIEL DIVILIO

Molly’s Place, an out­door out­fit­ter lo­cated in Kennedyville, is just one ex­am­ple of how hunt­ing adds to the lo­cal econ­omy, a point be­ing raised by ad­vo­cacy group Hunt­ing Works For Mary­land.

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