Illinois draws about 512, 000 hunters every year. Now a group is promoting how that number impacts Illinois' economy.
The group called "Hunting Works for Illinois" says the money hunters spend on equipment, travel, food and lodging creates a "ripple effect" by adding jobs and maintaining local economies. The group is made up of business associations who want to let others know about such benefits.
Among these is the Illinois Manufacturers Association, the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association, the BNSF Railway and several convention and visitor bureaus from across the state. They say hunting supports over 18,000 jobs in the state.
Brittany Henry is the executive director for the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. There she says, several hotel packages are meant to attract hunters into the area by offering special discounts and added perks. But she says, hunting impacts more than just Jacksonville's tourism.
"Did you know that hunters pay special taxes on their equipment? Hunters fund public conservation efforts through a special tax called Pittman-Robertson," she says, "Hunters are glad to pay these taxes that benefit the outdoors for everyone."
According to the group, hunting also impacts the railroad industry.
"Probably half of our business is bringing in consumer goods, much of which comes from the west coast," says Peter Skosey, executive director for state government affairs at BNSF Railway, which operates one of the largest freight railroad networks in North America. He says he joined the initiative because hunting merchandise often travels by freight train. When such goods arrive in Illinois, he says, they go to distribution centers that send them to stores where people buy hunting gear.
The initiative to promote hunting exists in fifteen other states--such as Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan.