Business of hunting and fishing

James Holland fishes a bend on Flat Creek in 2015 on the National Elk Refuge. A new study estimates that hunting and fishing brings $30 million into Teton County’s economy.

Sportsmen spend about $30 million annually in Teton County pursuing cutthroat trout, elk and other terrestrial and aquatic critters, according to a new study.

The assessment takes a snapshot view of spending from 2015, a year hunters generated more than $8 million in County 22 and anglers contributed another $21 million to the local economy. Other counties assessed — Park, Fremont, Sweetwater and Albany — lagged behind Teton in terms of sportsmen spending, Wyoming Wildlife Federation executive director Chamois Anderson said.

“I found that surprising, because of the two huge national parks in your county,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t believe the number of fishing licenses sold.”

“Clearly,” she said, “they’re reinjecting dollars into the tourism economy, which is important.”

David Taylor and Thomas Foulke of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics headed the analysis, attached to the online version of this story. The Wildlife Federation, Anderson said, commissioned the research to inform ongoing debate around the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative, which could determine the fate of wild landscapes around western Wyoming, such as the nearby Palisades and Shoal Creek wilderness study areas.

The economists’ methodology for hunting spending relied on hunter-days logged pursuing antelope pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bison, black bear, deer, elk, moose and mountain goats. In pursuit of those species, hunters put in 42,000 days in the 2015 seasons. Small game and upland game species weren’t factored into the equation.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department doesn’t estimate angler-days regionally, and so the analysis used licenses sold in the county (47,000) and statewide use rates of those licenses.

Taylor and Foulke estimated hunting and fishing spending by using data from a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. Non-resident Wyoming hunters opened up their wallets to the tune of $551 a day, while out-of-state anglers spent $308 daily. Resident spending rates were much lower: Hunters spent $86 daily and anglers $47.

Using the same methods, Taylor and Foulke found that sportsmen spent $25 million in Albany County, $23 million in Park County, $23 million in Fremont County and $14 million in Sweetwater County.

The economists wrote that the $30 million estimate for Teton County was “probably conservative” because services are relatively more expensive here.

Anderson was hopeful that the University of Wyoming-backed research would inform the ongoing debate about keeping the Equality State’s public lands under federal control.

“Keeping these lands open and under federal control and managed for access is of utmost importance,” she said.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067, or @JHNGenviro.

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