The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 20, 2013

Hunters help businesses bag 'bucks' | Partnership touts sport's economic benefits

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — What business owner would be opposed to adding a few extra dollars in his or her cash register?

A newly formed, grassroots partnership of organizations is aiming to help entrepreneurs do just that.

Hunting Works for Pennsylvania is touting the economic benefits that the sport brings to the Keystone State.

“How many people really realize how much money goes to Pennsylvania from the hunting community?” Vernon Ross, co-chairman, said.

Every year, about 1 million hunters will pursue wild game in the commonwealth, and they will spend about $986 million. That is a big boost to the many businesses and workers who rely on hunting to sustain their livelihoods.

Of those 1 million hunters, about 76,000 come from outside our borders. And they will be looking for local places to eat and sleep; purchase hunting clothing, ammunition, accessories and licenses; and fuel for their rigs. They will shop at mom-and-pop stores and national retailers. On average, each out-of-state hunter will spend $1,260 per season on trip-related expenses.

Who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?

Ross said that when he goes to his hunting camp, he sees signs on local restaurants and taverns welcoming hunters.

“I know if I go in, I’ll be welcome,” he said. “It makes no difference where they are.

“I talked to a friend of mine who owns a business and he said, ‘Get me one of those because a lot of the guys I serve are hunters.’ ”

The program is a plus for hunters because it helps cast them in a positive light.

“Not enough people understand that hunters are true conservationists and that the bulk of the money that pays to manage our wildlife is provided by hunters,” said Janet Nyce, Hunting Works for Pennsylvania co-chair and a member of the Governor’s Council for Fishing, Hunting and Conservation.

“Getting the chance to more thoroughly educate the public about this connection is just one of the many reasons I was so pleased to become a co-chair for this organization.”

The initiative also will benefit conservation.

“Through the Pittman-Robertson Act, hunters pay an 11 percent excise tax on equipment,” Nyce said  “The money collected from this excise tax is used to conserve and restore habitat, which benefits game and nongame species as well as anyone who loves the outdoors.”

The program, the brainchild of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, also boasts chapters in Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota that will weigh in on hunting-related issues that impact their respective local economies.

Carl Roe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, stated, “Hunting pays for services that we provide to all residents of Pennsylvania, not just hunters.”

We believe he is right on target.

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