MISSOULA, Mont. - Elk hunting in America is big business. The average elk hunter spends $1,201 a year pursuing the species - the second-highest amount of any game animal - and contributes to an economic engine worth nearly $1 billion annually. Elk hunters outspend all others on guides, food, lodging, private transportation, licenses and tags, but trail deer hunters in overall per capita spending by $37. Duck hunters are third at $1,182 a year.
Within the data, one spending category is for dues, such as membership dues to conservation organizations. In this category, elk hunters fall behind several other groups.
David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said, "In reviewing the data, we were struck by the fact that for $35 - less than 3 percent of the average outlay for elk hunting - you can join the Elk Foundation and invest in conserving and enhancing the habitat that makes good hunting possible."
Founded in 1984, the Elk Foundation has led a massive conservation movement that has helped improve wildlife habitat on over 5.2 million acres, a land area larger than Connecticut, Delaware and District of Columbia combined. More than 500,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation.
Today, however, the once-open spaces of the West are being developed and populated much faster than the national average. Noxious, encroaching and under-managed vegetation also threaten the future of elk habitat, hunting and related economic benefits.
"A $35 membership to the Elk Foundation supports habitat conservation efforts across elk country, as well as education and hunting heritage projects nationwide. Plus, members receive our award-winning magazine, 'Bugle,'" said Allen.
Some interesting average annual expenditures per elk hunter:
Private Transport. $150.25
In total, there are 794,602 elk hunters in the U.S. generating $954,421,128 annually in total spending, much of it in rural areas that depend on hunting revenue.
Data are based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife - Associated Recreation," prepared for the National Shooting Sports Foundation's "Today's Hunter" report, 2008.
To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit www.elkfoundation.org or call 800-CALL-ELK.