Opinion

Hunters are ready to defend our rights at the ballot box

Larry Rudolph Contributor

As we all know, the midterm elections could be a major turning point in the direction of this country.  Federal spending, jobs, the economy and health care are topics at the top of the national mind, but a recent Safari Club International poll shows that sportsmen and women will also have a significant impact on the November elections — precisely because hunting is a major economic powerhouse in the U.S. economy.  Hunters are standing ready to protect their sport, and the jobs it brings to rural economies, in the voting booth.  Our poll also shows that the sportsmen’s community is more interested in these elections than ever before, and hunters stand ready to vote on November 2nd.

A few facts demonstrate the impact of hunting in the United States:

  • 16 million Americans actively participate in hunting every year.
  • The hunting industry contributes over $30 billion to the U.S. economy each year and supports over one million jobs across the country.
  • The $4.95 billion in annual federal tax money generated by hunters’ spending could cover the annual paychecks of 150,000 U.S. Army sergeants.
  • Sportsmen contribute $7.5-plus million to wildlife and habitat conservation every day — more than $2.7 billion every year.

Of those hunters surveyed, an overwhelming nine out of ten say they are “very” likely to vote in the upcoming elections for Congress.  In the typically lower turnout of a midterm cycle, this finding suggests that the level of sportsmen’s participation in the November election will be significant. Safari Club’s members and hunters around the country are concerned about protecting the freedom to hunt, gun rights, land use and wildlife management issues and we are ready to make our voices heard at the ballot box in a few short weeks.

But it’s not just the federal level where sportsmen stand ready to make a difference this year. Safari Club International and our allies are involved at all levels of government — from state and local to national and international.  There’s an alarming trend, particularly in some states, to restrict hunters’ freedoms.  This year, Safari Club International and our members are involved in ballot initiatives in four states to pass state constitutional amendments that will guarantee the future of our right to hunt and fish, even in the face of anti-hunting extremists’ attacks.  The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and others are trying to delude voters into believing that these amendments are unnecessary, but the true agenda of the extremists was revealed in a recent article in Tennessee’s Jackson Sun.  Tennessee is one of the states where a constitutional amendment is on the ballot, and a spokeswoman from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told the paper that “Tennesseans should vote against the amendment and that hunting and fishing should be stopped.”

In our own headquarters state of Arizona, Safari Club International and a coalition of other sportsmen’s groups are supporting Proposition 109, a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt and fish in the state.  Arizona has become ground zero in this year’s battle over hunters’ rights, where the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other extremist groups have launched a focused attack against our hunting heritage. The truth is that groups like HSUS, and their ongoing efforts to restrict hunting, are the single best reason to pass this proposition and others like it.  These groups continue to prey on an uninformed public to impose restrictions on hunters using sensationalized, emotional messaging that has nothing to do with the science of wildlife conservation.  The threat is real.

Hunting is part of our heritage in this great nation, and continues to be a tradition that millions of Americans enjoy.   Hunters are also the single largest source of funding for conservation through excise taxes and license fees, and our overall economic contribution to the national economy is enormous.  It’s our duty as hunters to help protect our hunting heritage for generations to come.  Safari Club International and all of our allies in the sportsmen’s community are committed to protecting the freedom to hunt in the United States and stand ready to make our voices heard at the ballot box.

Larry Rudolph is President of Safari Club International (SCI) and Safari Club International (SCIF) Foundation. SCI is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide.  For more information, please go to:  www.safariclub.org.