DAKOTA REPORT: Hunting and fishing contribute over $1 billion to North Dakota economy

by Doug Leier

busy boat ramp photo

Few in the Midwest will question the role of hunting, fishing and trapping when it comes to quality of life.

If you’ve ever watched the sun come up from a duck blind or witnessed the expression of a determined youngster tussling with a formidable fish at the end of a line, you’ll understand that it’s difficult to put price on our outdoor activities and traditions.

At the same time, most of us are well aware that the money we spend on licenses and other fees directly benefits our activities. Taxes on gas that we put in our boats helps build and maintain boat ramps, and part of hunting license fees helps secure places to hunt through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open to Sportsmen program. Those are just two of many examples.

At the same time, hunters, anglers and trappers also spend money on goods and services in pursuit of their activities, such as equipment, travel, lodging and food.

While none of us hunt or fish simply because it’s good for the economy, from time to time it’s important for the Game and Fish Department to get a solid estimate on how much these activities contribute to North Dakota’s economy.

The most recent survey provides some eye-opening numbers: Fishing, hunting and trapping contribute an estimated $1.4 billion in annual input to the state’s economy, according to a report by the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University.

The report, commissioned by the Game and Fish Department, tracked hunter and angler expenditures for the 2011-12 hunting and fishing seasons, and is similar to other studies conducted periodically since the late 1970s.

“The last time we commissioned an economic impact study was about 10 years ago,” said Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand. “These studies help alert us to any major shifts in hunter and angler activities or participation.”

Overall, anglers and hunters in North Dakota spent $642.9 million dollars on equipment, vehicles, boats, travel, lodging, food and many other items. In addition, these expenditures generated nearly $727 million in secondary economic benefits, gross business volume, secondary employment and state-level tax collections, according to the NDSU researchers.

According to the report, resident hunters and anglers accounted for $555.7 million of total expenditures, while nonresidents contributed $78.6 million. Anglers spent $425 million and hunters $217 million.

These direct and indirect expenditures from resident hunters and anglers generated approximately $35 million in state-level tax collection. Nonresidents generated another $5 million.

“We know that hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation are an important quality of life factor for many North Dakotans,” Steinwand said. “This report reinforces the notion that economic activity associated with our outdoors is significant as well.”

Compared to spending in the 2001-02 season, total direct expenditures by resident hunters and anglers increased by $43.6 million, and by $4 million for nonresidents.

Complete or executive summaries of the report are available from the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at NDSU, by contacting Edie Nelson at (701) 231-7441 or edie.nelson@ndsu.edu. In addition, these publications can be found online at http://agecon.lib.umn.edu/.

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: dleier@nd.gov

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