OUT: Sunday Column April 12, 2009

Waterfoul hunters big spenders, report says

Each year hunting trips seem to take a bigger bite out of the budget, and a new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reveals how big that chunk is.

The report says waterfowl hunters in 2006 spent $900 million on necessities and hunting-related toys ranging from dogs, decoys and guns to the trucks needed to haul them.

The information was collected in 2006 as part of the agency’s national survey of fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation, which is done every five years. The latest report is titled “The Economic Impact of Waterfowl Hunting in the United States.”

According to the report, hunting trips and all those equipment-related expenditures generated a pretty good stimulus package of more than $2.3 billion, which led to $157 million federal and state tax revenue and generated more than 27,000 jobs.

“The financial support provided to conservation, and the economy as a whole, is significant,” said Rowan Gould, acting director of the Fish and Service. “Waterfowlers, like many other sportsmen, have a proven track record in their contributions to the U.S. economy, and that’s certainly something to take comfort in during these tough economic times.”

More than 1.3 million people ages 16 and up hunted waterfowl in 2006, the report says.

That’s 10 percent of all hunters, including big and small game.

We always suspected waterfowlers were not only smart but good-looking as well and the report bears that up, saying waterfowl hunters tend to be younger, have higher educational achievements, and are more affluent compared to all hunters.

Not surprisingly, nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of waterfowl hunters live in the South and the Midwest.

State fishing report may get the hook —  The Division of Wildlife’s weekly statewide fishing conditions and stocking report, long a popular staple of outdoors sections and a familiar read at fishing and sporting goods stores, may disappear at the end of the state fiscal year, which is June 30.

This year’s weekly reports begin April 14 but are scheduled only through June due to possible budget cuts being considered by the state Legislature. The Division of Wildlife doesn’t receive any general fund monies but the agency’s budget must be approved each year by the Legislature.

If the Legislature directs the DOW to cut its spending, the fishing report may be among the losses.

“We have a 12-week contract that runs through June 30 and after that, we don’t know,” said Jeannette Scherbarth of the DOW public affairs section. In recent years, the report has been compiled by an outside freelance writer.

With the state under a hiring freeze, Scherbarth said it’s unclear if a new fishing-report contract will be issued when the current one ends.

Workshops offer aquatic nuisance training — The push to slow the spread of aquatic nuisance species, primarily zebra and quagga mussels, through Colorado waterways is being bumped up this summer with a variety of free workshops offering training in monitoring, sampling and identifying the species.

“We want to make sure that everyone sampling for aquatic nuisance species or conducting boat inspections is following standardized procedures,” said Elizabeth Brown, Division of Wildlife invasive species coordinator. “It is our priority to ensure our partners have the best
information and tools to protect our waters from zebra and quagga mussels, and other aquatic nuisance species.”

The workshops are open to state and federal agencies, counties, municipalities, private entities, water managers, conservation groups and boating and angling groups. The courses are free, but early registration is required.

The annual Grand Junction workshop, which provides information on a variety of aquatic nuisance species, including zebra/quagga mussels, aquatic weeds and pathogens, will be 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. April 28 at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

A two-day watercraft inspection and decontamination workshop, required of anyone conducting watercraft inspections and decontaminations in Colorado, will be April 29-30, also at the fairgrounds.

Registration is through Suzanne Schafer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 303-291-7355.


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