Shutdown affecting hunting and fishing. Republicans won’t like that…

Most of the country is pissed at the Republicans over the shut down (and rightly so, since it’s their doing).  But there are still a cabal of Tea Partiers who, in the name of Jesus, would rather see our economy destroyed before they see the poor get healthcare (ironically, because of concern that the healthcare will do bad things to the economy).

But there’s a new monkey in the wrench that they may not have seen coming.  The Game and Fish Commission, the branch of the government that regulates hunting and fishing, is now shutdown.  Oh, you wanted to deploy your boat at government maintained ramps into government maintained lakes?  Yeah, no more of that.  Oh, you wanted to go shoot your guns at animals?  Yeah, not while we’re shut down.

As the federal government shutdown that began October 1 stretches into its second week, it is now threatening the beginning of hunting and fishing seasons, and hunters, fishers, and sportsmen’s groups aren’t taking that news quietly.

Here are some details.

For some hunters and fishers, that means the loss of a basic yearly ritual: hunting with family or friends for deer, waterfowl, or other animals. For others, it means the loss of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in states like Colorado or New Mexico, big game hunting licenses can take more than a decade to get, meaning hunters who finally got a license but miss this season may have to wait years for another chance, if another ever comes. For fishers, it means the closure of public lakes, rivers, and boat ramps maintained by federal authorities.

But the major effect is on local communities, small business, and people who depend on hunting and fishing for their livelihoods. The wildlife-related recreation economy is huge: in 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that it amounted to $144 billion annually. That economy is made up of hunters and fishers, birdwatchers and environmental enthusiasts, but also of hunting guides who make their living during major hunting seasons. It includes retailers and businesses that depend on $86 billion in direct hunting- and fishing-related sales. Small communities that have cropped up around public lands depend on revenues generated by hunting- and fishing-related tourism during this time of year. All of that is jeopardized by the shutdown.

“These three months of hunting season are like Christmas to a lot of these rural communities,” Land Tawnyey, the executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said. “They make all their money in three months. It’s vitally important to their economy.” Tawney said he has already canceled hunts on public lands that would have otherwise taken place, and he’s not alone: hunting trips across the country are facing the effects of the shutdown.

Hunters and fishers also generate more than $1.5 billion in revenues each year through licenses. Since most of those are processed at the state level, they shouldn’t be affected by a shutdown. But some licenses, for waterfowl and other species, are done federally and could be impacted. States could also see a drop in license revenue if hunters stay home because they can’t access public lands, Williams said.

The shutdown is also killing environmental conservation efforts.

Tank the economy?  Sure!  But if we can’t go out and shoot our guns at animals…

Ah, the Tea Party.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Bear Millotts

    Republicans: hate for Obama > love of capitalism

    • unbound55

      I see it a little differently.

      Tea Party: Hate of Obama > everything else

      Republicans: Love of Money for Their Masters (PR campaign calls it capitalism) > everything else

      Democrats: Not sure whether they should scratch their watch or wind their butts

      • Umlud

        “Tea Party” is not an actual political party, but are – politically speaking – a faction of the Republican Party; the crazy, going-to-blow-it-all-to-kingdom-come faction of the Republican Party that the rest of the Republican Party recognizes that they need politically to keep their numbers in the majority, but also really wish wasn’t as bat-shit insane as they actually are turning out to be.


        Tea Party Republicans hate for Obama and hate of institutions >> than Non-Tea Party Republicans love of money.

  • baal

    Heard a story on NPR today that the some of the CDC is being allowed to go to work for a samonella outbreak. Food inspectors, on the other hand, have to stay home. I’m sure the food industry won’t use this time to dump questionable food on the system.

    Let’s see…recreational hunting or me getting to eat safe to eat food.

  • Loqi

    I’m willing to bet the Tea Partiers just go poaching. After all, following the law is endorsing big government, right?

  • Umlud

    Kind of an off topic thought, but sometimes I think that It would be so much better if the GOP just jettisoned their Tea Party faction. After all, the Tea Party don’t like the big banks and the big businesses that have helped the GOP (and the Dems) for so long and who are now looking with increasing alarm at the catastrophic economic possibility of default. (And – even if there isn’t default – the danger of letting the Tea Party keep playing chicken with the country’s economy is not really a good reason to be sanguine.)

    True: it would make the GOP a minority party (even if a few conservative Dems did shift allegiances and join the not-completely-insane Republican Party that would be left when they let the Tea Partiers leave), but this “Tea-Party-less” GOP would no longer have to deal with a faction that is fanatically (and cancerously) attempting to take over and subjugate their own party along lines of political purity, and damn the consequences.

  • Sids

    What this clearly shows is that the GOP were really just looking to help the environment. They had to cloak it in a shutdown so as to not offend their voters, but just watch the numbers of animals and fish skyrocket into next year. Aren’t they incredible forward thinkers.

    It’s amazing what reinterpretation and “context” can do.