Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the significance of licensed hunting and trapping in Canada. Many have already provided a great deal of information to you on this subject in greater depth and much more eloquently than I can, particularly the OFAH. I was able to read their presentation, and it was very much on a national-stage level. I hope only to add to their presentation, perhaps more on a provincial stage, as my two counterparts have done.
The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation was established in 1929 and probably represents more than 33,000 members in 121 branches across our province. We're considered to be per capita the largest conservation organization of this kind in the world.
In opening, I'd like to address the benefits from an economic, conservation, and quality-of-life basis.
First from the economic standpoint, the economic impact of the heritage activities—hunting, angling, and trapping—is placed at approximately $15 billion annually across Canada. In Saskatchewan, a 2006 provincial government study with the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation confirmed that more than $500 million in economic activity was generated in Saskatchewan annually through those activities. This did not include first nation activities.
A 2016 update on that information suggested that the number is closer to $600 million today. In Saskatchewan, more than 25% of our provincial population, which is 1.1 million people, participate in hunting, trapping, or angling ever year.
Saskatchewan presently trains more than 5,000 new hunters and trappers annually. Interestingly, as Mr. Lowry pointed out, that increase is being led by the female demographic, and we're very happy. In 2000, I believe about 10% of our new recruits were female, and now they're approaching one-third or about 35%, which is very exciting and very gratifying.
Again, hunting and trapping provides more than 1,000 full-time equivalents in employment in Saskatchewan every year, interestingly mostly rural. This was prior to Cabela's opening of two stores in our province over the past three years and aggressive expansion into hunting and angling retailing by a number of other retailers, such as Canadian Tire and cooperatives.
As a footnote to that comment, this does not include non-government organizations, such as the SWF, NCC, DU, or government positions, such as DFO, Canadian Wildlife Service, or the Ministry of Environment's biologists and conservation officers, which would number somewhere in the range of 400 to 500 additional FTEs every year.
In most jurisdictions the millions of dollars generated by licence and permit sales support conservation programs and projects.
In 1980, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation convinced the provincial government to increase licence costs to create our fish and wildlife development fund. It was suggested that this was the first time that a group asked government to levy a surcharge to promote conservation. I don't think that across the board in North America that happens very often.
Today, 30% of all licensed sales are dedicated to the fish and wildlife development fund and used to provide habitat and fisheries enhancement and securement. We also use those funds to operate our provincial hatchery and provide funding for education, research, and program development in our province. Most of the $4.5 million generated annually is matched by NGOs.
The conservation benefits provided by hunting and trapping are numerous and multi-faceted. We only have to consider the negative effects that overpopulation of any species has on agriculture, vehicle collision numbers, and habitat degradation. Hunting and trapping are the only effective tool utilized under responsible game management to maintain healthy species population levels.
In addition, millions of dollars are raised each year by wildlife federations to protect and enhance wildlife and fisheries habitat, research, outdoor education, and responsible conservation management. We also actively finance and provide thousands of volunteer man-hours towards invasive species programs and species at risk research and initiatives. The SWF presently holds title to more than 60,000 acres of wildlife habitat in our province and manages an additional 100,000 acres.
It's very fair to say that wildlife organizations across North America and the world are the backbone of today's modern conservation movement.
From a quality of life standpoint, the quality of life benefits provided by these heritage activities are difficult to quantify. In a recent survey, over 50% of Saskatchewan residents stated their proximity and available access to nature was paramount in their decision of where they decided to live.
I grew up in a family whose social and family lives revolved around these activities and time spent in the outdoors. Over the years I have come to realize that we share this way of life with millions of others in Canada from all walks of life. Its pervasive influence in our lives would escape most to describe. I can only suggest that participating in heritage activities with family, friends, and individually is the essential component of the quality of life fabric that makes the hunting, angling, and trapping community who we are, why we are, and what we are.