NSW hunters’ pursuit of deer and ducks – and also pigs, rabbits, dogs and foxes – pumps a pretty penny into the state’s coffers, according to fresh research funded by the Game and Pest Management Trust.
A survey of 2500 recreational hunters for the Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Game Licensing Unit predicts NSW Game Licence holders has added $119 million to the gross state product, and supported 860 jobs since March 2016.
The survey, by Victorian agri-eviro consultants RMGC, estimated each licensed game hunter in NSW contributed an average gross of $6200, while the significantly larger proportion without a game licence – an estimated 207,000 hunters – contributed between $548 and $1.6 billion total and spent between $2700 and $7900 gross on average.
The survey canvassed 2,422 hunters – 90 per cent of which were game licence holders – and who were not necessarily from NSW, but were hunting in NSW.
It found the main expenditure items were hunting equipment (27 per cent), vehicles (20 per cent), food and drink (14 per cent), fuel (13 per cent), and ammunition (10 per cent).
Interestingly, 20 per cent of NSW Game Licence holders live in Victoria, with a further 10 per cent spread across the ACT and Queensland.
About 70 per cent were local to NSW.
Chair of the Game and Pest Management Advisory Board, Professor Robert Mulley, said the report validated what many hunters already knew: that safe and responsible hunting had the potential to be an economic driver in the regions.
"Small towns like Tumbarumba and Tocumwal come to mind where significant hunting activity for species like deer and ducks is concentrated at certain times of the year,” Mr Mulley said.
“These small towns rely heavily on the steady stream of responsible hunters passing through on their way to State forests or rice fields as they buy fuel, groceries and stay in local hotels.”
The survey results released as debate bubbles on the value of game hunting versus the agricultural impact of species such as deer.
Last month government suspended rules protecting wild deer as a game resource across nine local councils to help land managers reporting a rise in farm and environmental damage because of a rise deer numbers.
Hunting critics have accused shooters of wanting to protect deer as a hobby resource in the face of farm decline, with some producers reporting up to $30,000 a year in damage and reduced stocking rates.
Recreational hunters, however, say they should be called upon to rid deer problem areas.
They have also stood firm in spruiking the industry’s value to the state – which is seemingly reflected in the Game Licensing Unit survey.