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Fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching a big part of Wyoming economy

A new University of Wyoming study shows more people are heading into the back country and spending a lot of money doing it.

Wildlife watchers, combined with hunters and anglers contributed more than $1 billion to the state’s economy in 2017. That is a 2.3% increase from 2016.

“Wyoming has some of the best wildlife watching in the country, and the hunting and fishing opportunities here are sought after because of the high-quality wildlife, access and the outdoor experience with friends and family,” said John Kennedy, acting Wyoming Game and Fish Department director. “We’re glad to host everyone who chooses to enjoy Wyoming’s wildlife.”

The analysis was requested by Wyoming Game and Fish to look at the kind of licenses and goods purchased during resident and non-resident outdoor trips. That number is then related to people who participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

The number of participants is drawn from Game and Fish harvest reports, as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data and other studies on wildlife-related recreation.

According to the UW study, people spent $802.2 million on wildlife-based recreation in Wyoming during 2017. And, from that direct spending, Wyoming saw $1.065 billion in total economic activity.

“Expenditures are anything related to hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, like equipment, licenses, outfitters, payments to landowners, meat processing or travel-related expenses, such as restaurants, lodging, gas stations,” said David Taylor, the professor in the UW Department of Agriculture and Applied economics, who conducted the analysis.

The study also revealed the economic activity supported nearly 10,000 Wyoming jobs and $264.3 million in labor income. That is a 4% increase in related jobs from 2016 to 2017. That is especially significant, given Wyoming’s total jobs grew by less than one tenth of a percent in the same time frame.

Taylor said there about 400,000 jobs in Wyoming, so outdoor-related jobs now account for about 2.5% of the state’s workforce.

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