Nevada hunters generate millions in economic impact for rural communities

A new study reveals spending on big game and high-altitude hunting

RENO, Nev. – A new study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno documents that hunting generates millions of dollars in economic impact in Nevada, especially in rural communities where wildlife abounds, including Elko, White Pine and Lincoln counties .

The study, led by researchers at the University’s Department of Economics, Extension and Experiment Station, found that hunters spent about $380 million in 2020 hunting in Nevada, both in travel and hunting expenses, as well as expensive items. such as road vehicles, firearms, ammunition and campers. Spending in 2020 was nearly identical to spending in 2019, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers worked with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the state agency tasked with conserving wildlife and managing sustainable hunting opportunities in Nevada, to find out how much hunters spend on hunting licenses and tags each year. In addition to using NDOW administrative data and “Big Game Hunt Stats” figures, the researchers worked with NDOW to distribute an expenditure survey to collect the hunting expenses of 2,000 hunters. The result was two companion reports: Nevada Hunting-Related Economic Activity and Nevada Hunter Expenditures.

The reports were produced in collaboration with Extension’s Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP), which aims to provide county, state, and federal agencies and their partners with quantitative and qualitative baseline data and analysis to better understand the demographic, social, and economic trends for each county. , fiscal and environmental.

The timing of the research, which used data from the 2019 and 2020 hunting seasons, was not planned to coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic, but ended up allowing researchers to analyze spending on hunting during different economic conditions.

“More people want to hunt big game animals here in Nevada than there are big game tags available,” said Michael Taylor, co-author of the reports. “That’s what makes hunting a recession-proof industry. There are so many people who want to go that demand remains strong even during an economic downturn.”

Hunting is a unique and coveted experience, and hunters are committed to being outdoors and connecting with the landscape and wildlife, Taylor added. If hunting opportunities weren’t available in Nevada, hunters would likely seek hunting or other outdoor activities in other states.

Taylor is an associate professor of economics in the University’s Business School. He spent two years collaborating on the research project and co-authoring the two reports with three University colleagues: Alec Bowman, a research scientist in economics and lead author of both reports; Tom Harris, professor of economics, extension specialist and researcher at the Experiment Station; and Buddy Borden, associate professor of economic and community development and Extension specialist. The Extension and Experiment Station are part of the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources.

The team found that the majority of hunters in the state live in Washoe and Clark counties, but that the economic impact of hunting is greatest in the counties where the most tags are issued (Elko, White Pine, and Lincoln) and that the economic impact varies depending on the type of label issued. For example, on average across counties, an increase of 10 antlered mule deer hunt tags will increase total economic output by nearly $4,500, but an increase of 10 antlered elk tags will increase total economic output by $19,000.

That is not to say that there will be more tags available to boost the economy, as the number of tags available to hunters each year is not influenced by the economy or income in any way. Tag quotas are set by the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners through a public process, and NDOW’s recommendations for the number of tags available each year are based on survey data and population modeling to manage a surplus sustainable and harvestable, which benefits conservation and supports healthy populations of wildlife.

Bobby Jones, NDOW’s outdoor connection coordinator, said the hope is that the information in the report will help small businesses, county commissioners and other decision makers better understand how to conserve Nevada’s natural resources and provide sustainable opportunities for Nevadans to hunt, fish, hike, and the camp supports the state’s economy.

“Our goal is simply to share this information widely so Nevadans can make more informed decisions that better serve their communities when it comes to conservation, outdoor recreation and hunting,” he said.

Jones said there simply wasn’t much information about the economic impacts of hunting in the state prior to this investigation.

“In general, people are aware that hunting exists and support legal and regulated hunting, but they are not hunters themselves, and even hunters might not sit down and write down exactly what they spend on hunting each year,” he said. . “Prior to this report, there was not enough information available to show exactly how hunting in Nevada impacts our economy.”

And while hunting isn’t going to be a transformative engine of economic development, it does create a substantial number of jobs in some of the state’s rural communities, Taylor added.

“It’s not farming, it’s not mining, but it’s a good industry that brings people to these counties,” he said.

Taylor said he and his colleagues are now following up on the first survey to see the economic benefits to hunters. Jones added that NDOW may also look to do more follow-up surveys with the University in the future.

“Compared to this report, most national survey data severely underestimates hunter spending in Nevada,” Jones said. “Knowing this, we are curious if that is the same for other outdoor activities or not. If hunting brings in almost $400 million per year, does fishing or wildlife see bigger economic drivers than we think? Possibly, but we can’t tell without moving forward with a similar effort if we want to be sure.”

The University of Nevada, Reno is a public research university committed to the promise of a knowledge-driven future. The land-grant university of Nevada founded in 1874, the University serves 21,000 students. The University is a comprehensive doctoral university, classified as an R1 institution with very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Additionally, it has earned the prestigious “Carnegie Engaged” rating, reflecting its student and institutional impact on civic engagement and service, fostered by extensive state and community partnerships. More than $800 million has been invested in state-of-the-art labs, residence halls, and campus facilities since 2009. Home to the University of Nevada, Reno College of Medicine, and Wolf Pack Athletics, it maintains a mission of outreach and presence throughout the state through programs such as the University of Nevada, Reno Extension, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Small Business Development Center, Nevada Seismological Laboratory, and is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Through a commitment to research that improves the world, student success, and outreach that benefits Nevada communities and businesses, the University makes an impact across the state and around the world. For more information visit