The reasons why we hunt are as divergent and complex as where we hunt, what we hunt and how we hunt. A lot of it is difficult, if not impossible to quantify. The reality however is that if we want to continue to enjoy social licence and to gain community and government support and investment we need to have solid data to back up our story.
A useful means of discussing hunting is by highlighting its ‘triple bottom line’ benefits – social, environmental and financial. The latest performance data and insights report from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) includes some very useful financial data and also goes some way towards fleshing out social and environmental benefits.
In the grip of one of the worst droughts on record, it has, undeniably, been a challenging year for the primary industries across Eastern Australia. A shining light amongst the gloom has been the performance of recreational fishing and hunting, contributing a combined $4 billion in expenditure in New South Wales alone – an increase of 4% year on year.
Hunting ranks as New South Wales’ fourth most important industry by output – trailling only cattle, horticulture and fishing and leading a number of traditional industries such as wool, milk, poultry and forestry. Hunting of course also delivers significant environmental and social benefits.
Hunting expenditure, for game and pest animals, was estimated at a staggering $1.6 billion in 2018-19. Hunters took nearly 30,000 wild deer in that time and hunter use of State Forests increased by 39%.
In its role as the regulator of hunting in New South Wales, DPI undertakes a number of compliance and education activities. In twelve months, DPI and its partners disseminated more than 112,500 education and awareness items, delivered 76 waterfowl identification test, 3,000 R Licence and 500 firearm courses, attended 13 trade shows and reached over 1.9 million stakeholders on social media.
The benefits that hunting brings, particularly to regional communities is clear. Governments investing in and promoting hunting grows an activity which is safe, ethical and sustainable and which delivers so much more than dollars and cents to society.