New Hunters Survey Shows Shot Economic Contribution
The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions quietly released its latest taxpayer funded hunter’s “economic impact” survey (2019) last week.
We don’t think duck shooters will be flaunting this one.
Australia's rarest native duck, the Freckled Duck, thought to be one of the world's rarest, illegally shot during duck shooting seasons. Photo Eleanor Dilley.
Like the last in 2013, this was again a survey of hunters, one would assume with a vested interest in the outcome. It was not a report on the net impact of hunting on the regional communities where shooting occurs. There are no tourist groups or rural residents / businesses listed in the acknowledgements . Once again the survey totally missed the adverse impacts to residents and businesses.
The survey participation rate was cited as an extremely low 3% of the hunting community, potentially those most motivated to sway the result in favor of hunting. As per the 2013 survey, their responses regarding expenditure, level of wellbeing or education, were not verified from other sources.
Even so, the report showed the overall economic “contribution” of all animal hunting (deer, duck, pest and quail) fell a mammoth 28% compared to 2013. The fall would have been bigger had it not been for the reported increase in deer hunting expenditure which propped up the numbers.
Duck shooting expenditure dropped 46% and associated jobs fell 31%, down to just 587 state-wide.
Quail shooting expenditure fell 58% and jobs 48% to a mere 202.
Importantly these numbers reflect both direct and claimed flow on effects. The analysts suggest the net economic benefit, accounting for substitutability of activity, could be as low as just $19 million (according to hunters spend estimates) and 246 jobs from all hunting for all Victoria.
Of course duck shooters may argue their decreased spending is due to reduced season length. But the reduction in shooting days was only 12%. They may also argue reduced bag limits was a reason but this won't fly either, because in the survey, shooters said the main reason they go hunting is to "be in the outdoors" (not to kill animals.)
In the report there is still a focus on numbers of game licenses issued being “steady” which is misleading because the population of Victoria has boomed. The more accurate measurement is the percentage of the population interested in any form of hunting which is tiny (less than 1%) and for duck and quail shooting especially, declining.
However If duck shooters wish to talk numbers the fact is there are still only around 25,000 licensed duck shooters for all Victoria (official statistics show only about half this small number are actually active). Compare this to the number of tourists to just one area where they shoot with cameras instead, like Yea Wetlands: 30,000 visitors, or Winton Wetlands: 66,000 visitors. (Winton Wetlands 2018/19 Annual Report). And let’s not forget Phillip Island Nature Parks which contributes around $500 million a year to our state, of this, $120 million and 800 jobs just to the local government area.
A major failing of these hunter economic impact surveys is the omission of costs. The costs to taxpayers of compliance monitoring for example or of the adverse impact to tourism and other activities due to unmonitored shooters killing animals in public areas.
If Victoria is said to gain $19 million from hunting, the question is what did it COST Victorians?
Domestic tourism alone (without International) is worth a whopping $80 billion to our country and studies by The Australia Institute show most tourists will avoid areas where there is hunting.
It is perplexing that no other recreation enjoys this amount of government attention or taxpayer funds for surveys.
To consider economic and social impact why has there not been a survey of bushwalkers or birdwatchers – who are known to be affluent and big spenders? Tourism Research Australia national visitor surveys show there were 866,000 domestic tourists who birdwatched across our country last year. In fact 44%
more overnight domestic tourists went birdwatching than visited the reef.
If taxpayers are to pay for surveys they should at least be based on a balance of impacts.
Similarly if hunters believe their activity to be so lucrative, perhaps it's time they paid for their own promotions.
Regional Victoria deserves better.
Duck shooting for one thing, should be banned – as it is in other states - to allow rural towns to benefit fully from more popular pastimes.
Tourism Research Australia -= Travel by Australians Year Ending 2019
The Australia Institute – Out for a Duck
Phillip Island Nature Parks Contributes $498 Million to the State - 2014 Media Release