The bird hunting society: The economic impact of migratory game bird industries

The bird hunting society: The economic impact of migratory game bird industries

Skylar Moed, Contributing Writer

Everybody has their “thing.” For some people, it’s music or drawing. For others, it can be surfing or baking. But for some people, their “thing” is hunting.

Migratory game birds bring in much revenue and are a colossal part of the hunting industry. These birds have a huge economic impact on the economy and environment around you, whether you realize it or not.

What Are Game Birds?

First, we must address one essential question. What is a “game bird”?

According to Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, “Game birds are native or non-native birds that historically were wild game or decorative fowl but are now raised commercially for their meat or egg production or as “flight-ready” birds for release on hunting preserves or by state wildlife agencies.”

These birds can include anywhere from a vibrant peacock famous for its flashy feathers to a wild turkey that makes for a yummy meal during Thanksgiving.

As Jeffery French, a biology professor at North Greenville University, discussed the endeavors of hunting, he stated that “people like to hunt anything that is charismatic and large.” Any animal that is a large enough consumer to be considered a key element to the food chain makes a major impact on the ecosystem.

Game birds tend to fall in line with this grouping. Sandhill cranes are a great example of this. As they migrate, they will switch back and forth between consuming insects and plants based on where they are in their migration pattern.

French described them to be a “key in the middle [of the food chain] that will do damage both up and down the food chain” if they are harmed due to hunting.

All of this is important because they way in which licensed hunters hunt, the regulations set in place by the states, and the conservation acts that effect these types of animals, such as game birds, will ultimately impact our economy.

Simply put, if there are not proper preservation guidelines set in place, the provision that game birds bring to not only the ecosystem, but the economics of the hunting industry, will deteriorate.

Why Does Hunting Matter?

Hunting is of the biggest business in America, generating over $67 billion in economic output and more than a million jobs, according to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA). To put that into perspective, with 67 billion dollars, you could afford to give every single person in Canada nearly $2000.

IAFWA also found that on average, “each hunter spends $1,896 per year on hunting, which is 5.5% of the typical wage earner’s annual income.” For many smaller and environmentally rich communities around the USA, hunting dollars are what keep them afloat. Like football and apple pie, hunting is an American tradition that is shared by all ages regardless of social or economic status.

In addition to the plethora of revenue brought in each year by this lucrative hobby, hunters support over half a million jobs in America. For comparison, that is more occupations than all of the top U.S. airline employees combined.  

But all of this is not possible without God’s creation and design of nature. Most people think of deer hunting when they initially think of hunting. However, migratory game birds bring in much revenue and are a colossal part of the hunting industry.

When it comes to migratory game birds, their migration patterns effect massive areas of land and multiple systems. Since they travel up and down, across and over the nation of America, their role in the ecosystem and economy matter.

These birds bring in a high revenue for hunters and are a hot market item for this business. French addresses this concern clearly by indicating that hunting regulations and conservation agreements concerning game birds produce consequences all over the nation. Follow along for a further look into how that is so.

High-Market Birds: Migratory Birds Such as Sandhill Cranes

What makes something attractive to humans? Is it beauty? Is it size? In some cases, it is because something is rare. Migratory birds are a major attraction for tourism for this very reason. Since they spend their time traveling across the states, you cannot always see them. The tourism these birds bring make a heavy impression on the state’s economy.

An article by The Daily Beast estimated that more than $800 billion is spent per year towards outdoor recreation in America. Nearly 5% of that benefit comes from birdwatching. That may not seem like a lot, but the fact of the matter is that a creature such as birds save us billions of dollars per year.

The money that also goes into conserving species, such as these migratory game birds, also comes from bird watching. People will gladly pay a fee to see a magnificent bird with their very eyes.

When looking at a bird like the sandhill crane, the “bigger-is-better” mentality implies that they must be one of the top game birds in the industry. They are massive creatures that can be as tall as a human.

Sandhills are the most abundant and widespread of the numerous crane species that exist. They are most similar to whooping cranes, which can be found near the Gulf Coast in Texas. However, French discusses that the only migratory birds you would see along the Southern shores of the USA would be birds such as egrets, herons, and yellow-leg birds.

Being such an attractive and captivating bird for various reasons, they play a huge marketing angle for nature conservation organizations. They are considered the “poster child for The Nature Conservancy”, French explained. If these birds can continue to properly flourish while still bringing in profit, then conservation agencies will continue to use them.

French explains sandhills to be what is called a “flagship species.” This means that marketing these game birds looks good on behalf of the agencies using them because they are advertised as an animal they seek to protect and in reality, they continue to thrive.

Migratory game birds are a major profiter for the hunting industry. These birds are a high market demand and profits through both tourism and hunting all across America. This industry is often overlooked for its imperative economic impact, but these magnificent birds bring a lot more to the table than most recognize.

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