Coronavirus Pandemic Meat Shortages Have Hunters Stocking up on Game

Meat shortages at grocery stores are on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, as processing plants have been forced to close due to the spread of the virus among workers. One of the trends seen in light of this has been an increase in Americans getting hunting licenses across the country. States are reporting an increase of hunting license sales, especially in states where game, fish and fowl hunting is common.

For example, in Vermont, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has seen a 50 percent jump in sales for resident fishing licenses over last year, reports the VT Digger. The combination of hunting and fishing licensing sales has jumped by almost a quarter, reversing a years-long decline in sales. The department sold about 21,270 resident fishing licenses through April 30, up from 7,800 at this point last year. Turkey hunting license sales has climbed 26 percent, just before the seasons starts Friday.

Game and fish agencies across the country are reporting a sudden jump in hinting license sales and permit applications this spring, reports Reuters. In Indiana, turkey license sales jumped 28 percent during the first week of the season. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources as sold 97,305 turkey hunting licenses, beating out the 3,072 sold last year, notes TMZ. In Virginia, hunting license sales climbed 10 percent, while New York saw the number of turkey hunting permits sold jump 60 percent from March to May.

Tennessee, where residents can buy combined hunting and fishing licenses, has also seen a spike in sales. Jennifer Wisniewski, the chief of communications and outreach at the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, told Outdoor Life sales for the 2020-2021 season, which began on March 1, have beat the previous season by $1 million. Wisniewski used online marketing, including a targeted Facebook PSA, to promote legal and safe hunting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Firearm manufacturers also reported sales jumps, and the FBI set a record for background checks in March with 3.74 million. "People are starting to consider self-reliance and where their food comes from," Hank Forester of Quality Deer Management Association told Retuers. "I think we're all born hunters."

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Nina Stafford, a building contractor from Fayetteville, Georgia, told Reuters the experience of killing her first deer earlier this year was "thrilling, exciting and remorseful for the deer." However, the coronavirus pandemic has only made her want to hunt more often so "that I don't have that scared feeling of where's my next meal going to come from."

The meat shortage has been linked to meatpacking plants closing during the pandemic. As of April 29, there were at least 19 meatpacking plants and five processed food plants closed in the U.S., reports USA Today. About 5,300 plant workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and thousands others have not been able to work. However, the USDA has said there is plenty of meat, and the shortages in stores are also due to sudden increased demand.