Turkey fever and the Utah economy
Wild turkey hunting season is quickly approaching, which means turkey fever is beginning to spread. Soon turkey hunters will be rising well before dawn, putting on our camouflage, loading up our gear and heading to our favorite hunting spot in hopes of bagging a bird.
One of the keys to the successful growth of Utah’s turkey population is the involvement and funding that comes from our hunters. Hunters pay federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment that serves to support federal and state wildlife programs. This tax, known as the Pittman- Robinson Act, has fueled wildlife and wildlife habitat management programs since 1937. The beneficiaries of this program include everyone that enjoys Utah’s wildlife whether they hunt or not.
The efforts and dedication of volunteers from conservation groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is another key to the growth of the turkey population. Each year, hundreds of NWTF members and volunteers flock to banquet events across Utah to share stories, a meal and common goals of conserving wildlife and protecting our hunting heritage. The funds raised by NWTF enhance conservation efforts and educates new hunters. Hunters also volunteer hundreds of hours per year on projects that create and maintain important wildlife habitat.
There are other benefits from increased conservation efforts and increased hunting opportunities that affect more than wild turkey hunters. In Utah, hunters spend millions of dollars per year on hunting and hunting activities. Our spending has created over 12,700 jobs and $310 million in salaries and wages in our state and is a crucial element of Utah’s economy.
I catch turkey fever every year and enjoy opportunities to link the importance of wildlife habitat conservation with the generosity of hunters and benefits to Utah’s economy. Hunters are an important component of Utah’s economy and contribute heavily to the wildlife legacy we enjoy today.
David Worwood is the Utah State Chapter President, National Wild Turkey Federation and Co-Chair of Hunting Works For Utah.