How much does hunting help the rural economy in New Mexico?

The gross domestic product (GDP) from elk hunting represents the total “value added” contribution of economic output made by the industries involved in the production of outdoor recreation goods and services related to elk hunting. The value added equals the difference between gross output (sales and other income) and intermediate inputs (goods and services imported or purchased from other industries). It represents the contribution to GDP in a given industry for production related to elk hunting.  The GDP data we used are from the 2013 NMDGF economic study performed by Southwick Associates, inflation-adjusted to 2021 dollars1

The GDP derived from elk hunting for each county in New Mexico is shown here in millions of (2021) dollars ($MM).2.  Source: The Economic Contributions of Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping in New Mexico in 2013:  A statewide and county-level analysis, Southwick Associates, July 31, 2014.

To assess the economic inputs elk hunting brings to communities in New Mexico, we compare the GDP from hunting expenditures in the counties and local communities and divide it by the total GDP in the same spatial area (county or community) to give the fractional GDP contribution from elk hunting.  The fractional GDP metric helps measure how important elk hunting is in a given county related to all other industries in that county.   In the lower-income counties of New Mexico, like Catron County, you will see below that elk hunting is a significant component of GDP (e.g. contributing approximately 7% to Catron’s county GDP).

Map of New Mexico Counties showing the GDP contribution from Elk Hunting / Total GDP.

The GDP derived from elk hunting normalized to the total GDP for each county in New Mexico is shown here. 3

Elk hunting contributes the highest percentage increase in GDP in Catron (7.7%), Mora (1.5%), Colfax (1.2%), and Rio Arriba (1.0%) counties.  Elk hunters spending money in these poor counties have a noticeable effect on local economies.

New Mexico is the fifth largest state by area in the US, with many large counties that are sparsely populated.  These large counties contain many GMUs.  A more detailed geospatial analysis is underway to resolve the GDP calculations at the GMU scale and town/village levels.  Large counties like Rio Arriba County contain urban areas (e.g., Española) with higher income levels than small rural towns with lower incomes (e.g., Chama).  Elk hunting typically occurs closer to the rural communities in each county.  The economic input from hunters to these rural communities is more pronounced when evaluated against the total GDP at the town level than at the county level4

Resident Hunters Spend their Money in Different Areas than Non-Resident Hunters

Map showing which counties resident New Mexico hunters spend their money.
Map of non-resident New Mexico hunter spending by county.

Spending data on New Mexico resident hunters were collected via surveys5.  Equipment spending was allocated to individual counties proportional to selected retail spending in the state. The assumption is that equipment purchases are made in essentially the same places where most retail sporting goods are sold. Spending that typically takes place where the fishing or hunting occurs (i.e., destination spending such as lodging, guide fees, etc.) was allocated to the counties based on the days of hunting in each county. Some spending typically takes place closer to the sportsmen’s place of residence (i.e., residential spending such as licenses and membership dues) and was assigned to counties based on the number of sportsmen who live in each county. Some spending categories are split between the sportsmen’s place of residence and where the activity occurs (i.e., groceries, fuel, etc.) For this hybrid spending, half of the spending was allocated using the destination spending methodology, and a half was allocated using the residential spending methodology to capture the fact that spending occurred in multiple places.

Jobs Created by Elk Hunting

Jobs created by elk hunting from 2013 economic analysis, survey-based.  Source: The Economic Contributions of Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping in New Mexico in 2013:  A statewide and county-level analysis, Southwick Associates, July 31, 2014.

Footnotes and References

  1. The Economic Contributions of Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping in New Mexico in 2013:  A statewide and county-level analysis, Southwick Associates, July 31, 2014.
  2. Elk GDP data  (2013, inflation-adjusted to 2021 dollars)
  3. Elk GDP data  (2013, inflation-adjusted to 2022 dollars) and  total GDP by county
  4. . We are currently analyzing the economics in the rural towns to assess the EPLUS contributions better.
  5. The Economic Contributions of Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping in New Mexico in 2013: A statewide and county-level analysis. July 31, 2014, Southwick Associates for NMDGF.