FACT CHECK: Viral Post Inaccurately Describes Size Of Hunting Population In Wisconsin

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims there are more than 600,000 hunters in Wisconsin, which would make it the eighth-largest army in the world.

Verdict: Misleading

The total number of hunters in the state is less than 500,000, which would make it the 15th-largest standing army in the world, not the eighth.

Fact Check:

The post alleges the total hunting population of Wisconsin, which is estimated to be around 600,000 hunters, makes it the eighth-largest army in the world. It also claims that no one was killed during the course of the state’s recent hunting season.

The claims are inaccurate. Nearly 495,000 hunters participated in Wisconsin’s 2021 hunting season, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), not 600,00. Among those, 445,808 hunters were state residents, while 48,941 non-residents were registered to participate in the 2021 hunting season, NSSF data shows.

The total of Wisconsin’s hunting population would make them the 15th-largest standing army, not eighth, according to data from the World Bank. The population would fall behind other countries such as Iran and Turkey, which are referenced in the post, data shows.

At least 12 incidents were recorded during the state’s hunting season in 2021 according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In one incident, a 65-year-old male was killed when he accidentally knocked over his firearm and it discharged, hitting him in the chest, according to the department. (RELATED: Are Pennsylvania Hunters Required To Wear Orange Face Masks While Hunting?)

There have also been other recorded deaths in hunting accidents in the state. A Waupaca, Wisconsin man was killed Nov. 3, 2021 after he apparently fell out of his tree stand, according to WSAW7.

The Facebook post goes on to claim the combination of hunting populations from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia “literally establishes the fact that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.”

This claim is also inaccurate. Data from the Michigan DNR, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, would put the total number of hunters in those four states at around 1.9 million. Countries like India and China have larger armies, though it would be the world’s third-largest standing army, according to data from the World Bank.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter

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