Fish and wildlife activities provide billions to Ohio’s economy
Wildlife-based recreation contributed nearly $12.5 billion to Ohio’s economy in 2022, according to a report from the Wildlife Management Institute, Responsive Management and Southwick Associates.
“Ohio has rolling hills for hunting, wide waterways for fishing and thriving bird habitat,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement issued by the Wildlife Division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “Ohio’s diverse natural wonders prove once again that the state is ‘the heart of it all.’”
In the study, Ohioans were surveyed about their participation in outdoor recreational activities and the economic impact of those activities, which included hunting, fishing, shooting, and wildlife viewing. Ohio residents ages 18 and older, including licensed hunters and anglers, completed phone and email surveys.
The four activities studied provided nearly 80,000 Ohio jobs and $4 billion in income, as well as $1.1 billion in local and state taxes and more than $600 million in federal taxes. The activities contributed a total of $6.7 billion to Ohio’s gross domestic product in 2022. Of the $12.5 billion in economic activity generated through these activities, residents contributed $12 billion, according to the release.
“We have always appreciated Ohio’s great outdoors and the natural spaces they provide,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. “Beyond the environmental benefits, this report shows the economic value of Ohio’s terrain and wildlife.”
In 2022, about 8% of Ohio adults fished, a significant number of 1.7 million anglers, according to the survey. Ohio anglers combined to spend $5.5 billion last year and supported more than 34,000 jobs.
The most popular areas for anglers were Lake Erie and the Ohio River, with 37% of anglers making at least one trip to Lake Erie to fish.
Last year, fishermen generated $1.9 billion in spending and supported 12,000 jobs. Each of the state’s 500,000 hunters spent an average of $3,500, and about 5% of Ohioans over the age of 18 hunt.
Whitetail deer were the most popular game species, with 91% of hunters participating. Firearms were used by 83% of hunters, bows were used by 72% of hunters, and many used both.
About 20% of Ohioans participate in target shooting each year. In 2022 alone, 1.1 million target shooters spent $2.6 billion, supporting more than 22,000 jobs.
Outdoor shooting ranges were used by 71% of shooters, and indoor shooting ranges by 46%. Additionally, 40% of shooters visited the range for reasons other than preparing to hunt.
Hamilton, Franklin, Cuyahoga, Mahoning, and Trumball counties are some of the most popular counties for target shooters.
Wildlife sightings pumped $1.6 billion into Ohio’s economy in 2022 and supported 11,500 jobs. Most 91% of the 4.1 million viewers searched for birds.
Mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians were also part of the wildlife viewing. Additionally, wildlife viewers, a group that includes photographers, are more likely to stay close to home, with a third of respondents traveling less than 10 miles to enjoy their hobby.
“One-third of wildlife sightings also rely exclusively on public lands, underscoring the importance of making these recreation areas accessible,” ODNR said.
View the full outdoor recreation participation and economic impact study at Wildohio.gov.
The Wildlife Division manages or cooperatively manages more than two million acres of water and 750,000 acres of diverse wildlife areas, the statement said. These habitats support popular game species such as deer, turkey, and walleye, as well as keystone species such as bald eagles and monarch butterflies.
Hunters, anglers, and shooters support wildlife conservation through their purchases of licenses and permits, and wildlife viewers can purchase an Ohio Wildlife Heritage Stamp to help with species declines. Sales of licenses, permits and stamps fund Department of Wildlife projects and programs that benefit wildlife and people.
“Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources are a tremendous asset to Ohio’s economy,” Wildlife Division Chief Kendra Wicker said. “We have always appreciated the significant financial contributions made by Ohio’s hunters, anglers, shooters and bird watchers. It is reassuring to see these benefits confirmed by the latest survey.
Those looking to participate in hunting, fishing, target shooting or wildlife viewing can visit Wildohio.gov or the Wild Ohio Harvest Community, which offers online classes, educational modules and more to help Ohioans get outside.