The geographic and economic importance of hunting in Southwestern Montana, USA
Bergstrom, Ryan Dennis
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Montana's big game species were at one time brought to near extinction through exploitation and the myth of superabundance. Today they are seen as one of the state's most prized possessions, with millions of dollars spent annually on their sustainability through the management efforts of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Funding for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is provided through a hunter and manufacturer sponsored excise equipment tax provided through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, or as it is more commonly referred to, the Pittman-Robertson Act, as well as state hunter license and permit fees. Conservation efforts provided through these funds are directly and indirectly responsible for increased harvest numbers and hunter participation, as well as the expansion of lands conserved to sustain these wildlife populations. By providing a healthy and diverse variety of game species, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is able to continually attract hunters to the state. This in turn, increases hunter expenditures that fund additional conservation efforts, while at the same time contributing to local economies via food, lodging, equipment, and transportation expenditures. The objective of this study was to determine the relationships between hunter-supported expenditures by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, hunter participation rates, species' harvest rates, and hunters' economic impact on communities. It is hypothesized that there will exist a positive relationship and feedback the between amount of hunter-related expenditures, hunter participation and harvest rates, and hunters' economic impact on local communities. The importance of this study was to develop a methodology by which these relationships can be determined, and hence, used elsewhere, as well as to demonstrate to regional hunting and non-hunting community, the importance and value of hunting.