While some in the outfitting industry are very well informed on the substantial contributions made by outfitters every year to wildlife, habitat, and conservation, most everyone else in the hunting and non-hunting world are completely unaware. This is partially due to the fact that our own industry has historically been hesitant to insist that conservation organizations give credit where it's due. Each year outfitters donate hunting and fishing trips to be auctioned off by conservation organizations in an effort to generate funding for on the ground conservation projects.
While conservation organizations like to proclaim their financial contributions to wildlife, when traced back we find that it is the individual outfitter, donating trips, that collectively sustains a very large percentage of the conservation dollars generated by these organizations. Established conservation organizations are reluctant to provide the actual financial impact of these donated trips to their bottom line and as such the outfitter community is all but forgotten in the credits for sustainable wildlife and habitat management.
A recent pilot study conducted by the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America (POGA) hopes to begin to dispel this notion. POGA represents 8 state guide and outfitter organizations who, in turn, represent individual outfitters who provide outdoor experiences. POGA membership includes five western states; Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming as well as Maine and Alaska. Individual outfitter memberships among the 8-state coalition exceeds 1,900 outfitters and represents more than 4,000 outfitter businesses. POGA serves as an industry advocate and consultative group for national issues of conservation, public land permitting, as well as state regulation and tourism.
The recently completed study found that an estimated $25.6 million was donated in 2016 by outfitters across the 8-state region for the benefit of conservation organizations such as Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the Wild Sheep Foundation, and 41 others. The study found that the average donation size ranged from $21,000 per hunt in Alaska to $1,000 in Maine.
Starting with this study, POGA would like to see the outfitter industry be recognized by conservation organizations, as well as state wildlife agencies, for their substantial conservation efforts. Without the generous donations of the businesses providing hunting and fishing experiences to sportsmen, conservation organizations would not have the ability to fund on the ground conservation efforts at the level which they proclaim. You can read the complete 12 page report on the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides website (click HERE
A special thanks to all of the AK, CO, ID, MT, ME, NM, NV, & WY outfitters who participated in the study!!