Media Clips

Hunting’s other trophy: $4B spent here yearly

Published on July 1, 2014 under Media Clips

Scott Cooper Williams | Green Bay Press Gazette | June 27, 2014

Where hunters go in Wisconsin, dollars follow.

That is the message of a new coalition, Hunting Works for Wisconsin, launched Thursday in the Green Bay area to promote the economic benefits of hunting.

By emphasizing hunting’s $4-billion-a-year statewide impact, the coalition hopes to encourage the general public to show more support.

Organizers also plan to monitor public policy issues and combat what they describe as anti-hunting sentiment among some working to limit the seasonal pursuit of deer, turkey and other wildlife.

Scott Gunderson, assistant deputy secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources, said the coalition aims to reinforce hunting as both an economic boost and a longstanding family tradition.

“We are so fortunate to have what we have in Wisconsin,” he said. “Sometimes we take it for granted.”

Gunderson joined other hunting enthusiasts and business representatives in announcing the Hunting Works coalition inside the Mills Fleet Farm store in Bellevue.

It is part of a national hunting promotional effort that began in Minnesota and now includes eight states.

In Wisconsin, the group plans a statewide campaign of advertising and lobbying to get its point across and to court public opinion. In the official Hunting Works logo, the “s” appears as a dollar sign.

Tina Brunell, co-chairwoman of the coalition, said the average hunter in Wisconsin spends about $2,800 a year on equipment, licenses, supplies, travel and other costs associated with the outdoor activity.

Multiplied by the state’s estimated 895,000 hunters, that works out to about $2.6 billion in direct spending, with ripple effects putting the total economic impact at $4 billion a year.

“Those are some really huge numbers,” said Brunell, who is executive director of the Mercer Area Chamber of Commerce in northern Wisconsin.

The coalition includes about 70 businesses and organizations statewide.

One of those joining Thursday’s announcement was Doug Parrott, director of government affairs for the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association. The group represents about 2,000 retail outlets where hunters shop frequently.

Parrott said the association joined Hunting Works because retailers depend heavily on hunting season to bring in customers.

“It just seemed to be a natural fit,” he said of the coalition.

Brandon Scholz, president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, noted that many grocery store operators plan special promotional events during hunting season and happily welcome hunters into their stores.

“It’s a great part of our business,” Scholz said.

Other coalition members include hotels, resorts, campgrounds, shooting ranges, sporting goods stores and tourism agencies. Mills Fleet Farm, also a member, is one of the state’s most popular outlets for state hunting license sales.

In announcing the coalition, organizers said that while they are not immediately targeting any particular public policy issue, they want to eliminate or prevent barriers that might discourage people from enjoying hunting.

State officials have succeeded in the past in bringing more women and children into hunting, Gunderson said. Officials constantly are looking to break down other possible obstacles to growing the sport, he added.

“It’s a hunting heritage. It’s a tradition,” he said. “We want to make sure that people have that opportunity.”

— swilliams@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @pgscottwilliams