Program advocating hunting launches in Wisconsin
By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel – June 28, 2014
A national initiative to establish in-state awareness of and support for hunting was launched Thursday in Wisconsin.
Hunting Works for Wisconsin will explain the role that hunting plays in the outdoor heritage and economic health of the state, said Nate Prouty of Minneapolis, program coordinator.
The Wisconsin program is funded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation of Newtown, Conn. and part of Hunting Works for America. The program began as a pilot in 2010. It is now active in eight states, including Minnesota.
The NSSF is a trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.
Hunting Works for America seeks to develop economic alliances to support hunting. The alliances may include businesses, trade associations, chambers of commerce, sports organizations and convention and visitors bureaus.
Estimates of the annual economic impact of hunting in Wisconsin range from $1 to $4 billion, depending on formulas used. Wisconsin had 717,381 resident and non-resident hunters in 2012, according to Department of Natural Resources license data.
The Congressional Sportsman Foundation estimates Wisconsin hunters spend $1.5 billion annually on hunting equipment and $358 million on trip-related expenses.
As of Thursday, Prouty said the Wisconsin coalition had 70 businesses and groups, including Mills Fleet Farm and the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.
The Wisconsin program has five volunteer co-chairs: Tina Burrell of Mercer, executive director of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce; Matthew Hauser of Madison, president of Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association; Mark LaBarbera of Hazel Green, founder of the Outdoor Heritage Education Center; Bill Moe of Black River Falls, owner of Moe Hardware Hank and Sporting Goods; and Brandon Scholz of Madison, president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.
Prouty serves as coordinator for the program in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
NSSF formed the program in part as a response to the growth of politically motivated groups opposed to hunting in the U.S., according to the organization.
“Many anti-hunting groups try to limit hunting, drive up the costs of hunting and even ban hunting altogether,” stated literature announcing the program. “The actions of these groups 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 we are facing tough economic times.”
Prouty said co-chairs and partners in Hunting Works For Wisconsin will monitor public policy decisions and weigh in on hunting-related issues that affect Wisconsin jobs.
The effort will include a “road show” this year featuring news conferences and appearances by co-chairs in various parts of Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.huntingworksforwi.com.