Hunting and fishing are pastimes that many residents in the state of Colorado enjoy, but sometimes people do not realize the benefit that hunting and fishing provides to the state, and to the residents.
In addition to providing a food source and a social opportunity, hunting and fishing benefit the economy and the environment. According to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Association Recreation, “2.3 million Colorado residents and nonresidents 16 years old and older fished, hunted, or wildlife watched in Colorado. Of the total number of participants, 767 thousand fished, 259 thousand hunted, and 1.8 million participated in wildlife watching activities, which includes observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife. The sum of anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers exceeds the total number of participants in wildlife-related recreation because many of the individuals engaged in more than one wildlife related activity.”
That activity results in an economic boost. “In 2011, state residents and nonresidents spent $3.0 billion on wildlife recreation in Colorado. Of that total, trip-related expenditures were $1.2 billion and equipment expenditures totaled $1.5 billion. The remaining $186 million was spent on licenses, contributions, land ownership and leasing, and other items,” the report stated.
Hunters and fisherman shop at local establishments, and many of the thousands of hunters and fishers in Colorado are from the state. Out-of-state visitors that participate in tourism are also a big economic driver.
“It helps local economies enormously. They welcome hunters and anglers, and those outdoorsmen spend money by purchasing things in town, eating at restaurants and using local lodging. When people go they certainly spend a lot of money in that area,” said Jennifer Churchill, Public Information Officer, Northeast Region, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
A federal excise tax is also applied to equipment that is purchased for hunting and fishing as well. “It is an incredible wildlife resource. People come from around the world to hunt and fish here, and that is something we are extraordinary proud of. When we get funds from those equipment purchases, we can manage wildlife and do research and have them for future generations,” she said.
All big game hunters in Colorado are required to have species specific permits for large animals. Big game licenses run from $16-$251, depending on the animal, and some licenses are only awarded based on a draw as they are limited.
The money that is collected from licenses is used towards fish and wildlife research and management. License fees pays for staffing at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and those staff are expected to be the expert in management the lands and the wildlife. License fees also provide money for education, as well as the biological aspects of counting herds and making sure the herds are healthy.
Anglers also provide an economic benefit. A fishing license is required in Colorado for anyone over the age of 16. A one-day fishing license costs $9, and every additional rod is $5. A $10 habitat stamp must also be purchased with the first license purchase for the year for individuals 18-64 years of age. An annual adult resident pass, for those aged 16-64, costs $26. A combination small game and fishing license is $41.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, “428,527 fish from national fish hatcheries across the country were stocked in Colorado in 2010 to support recreational fishing, restore native species, and recover species listed under the Endangered Species Act. These activities resulted in approximately $5,042,200 in economic benefits and 74,600 angler days of recreation.”
All hunters, except those younger than age 18 and those who are older than age 64 or have a disability permit, are required to have a habitat state each year, which is $10 to purchase. Habitat stamps must also be purchased with annual fishing passes, as well as on the third day of one-day fishing passes that are purchased.
According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “Habitat loss is one of the leading issues impacting the survival of fish and wildlife for future generations. Purchases of the Habitat Stamp provide the core funds for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection Program. The program provides a means for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to work with private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and provide places for people to enjoy our wildlife heritage.”
They continued, “Purchases of the Habitat Stamp provide the core funds for the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection Program. The agency has leveraged a variety of other funds around this core – including Great Outdoors Colorado and federal State Wildlife Grants – to extend the program’s reach. These combined funds have been focused on protecting fish and wildlife habitat and opportunities for hunting and fishing.”
Since the Habitat Stamp’s inception in 2006, the Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection Program has conserved 173,864 acres of key wildlife habitat. It has also secured 78,693 acres of new public access, opened 25.85 miles of new fishing access, protected more than 100,397 acres of big game winter range/migration corridors, and saved critical habitat for sage-grouse and other imperiled species.
“The habitat stamp is pretty critical. Most of the hunters and anglers step up when we ask them too to help support habitat. This also applies to fish habitats. We want to have good waterways for both cold water and warm water fish, as well as amazing recreation facilities for families,” Churchill stated.
Hunting and fishing provides many other benefits to the land as well, such as population control, which helps keep the land healthy. “We are living in a time when some people don’t feel hunting in necessary. However, it’s critical to make sure we have healthy herds. It’s also a part of our heritage. We have a wildlife resource here in the United States that other places don’t have. In some countries animals have been hunted to extension. Our participatory efforts help in managing wildlife, including their populations and disease,” she said.
Most hunters are conservation minded and have a good sense of how these animals need good habitat. “Hunters and anglers have a deep respect for the land, and want to improve it and the species that inhabit it,” explained Churchill.
According to the FWS, “The Service’s recovery efforts in Colorado include work on the four endangered Colorado Riverfish, the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, Canada lynx, and 23 other listed plant, invertebrate, vertebrate, and fish species. The Service also coordinates closely with various land and resource management agencies and State, local, Tribal, Federal, and non-governmental partners in Colorado on issues including energy development, water development and wetlands impacts, and environmental contaminants assessment and mitigation.”
Hunting and fishing provides many benefits to the state. “We have incredible wildlife here, and our hunting and fishing programs help guarantee we will have those resources for generations to come,” said Churchill. ❖