Wildlife Management Institute

National outdoor recreation report revealed and revealing PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 November 2007 06:00

The number of North Americans who hunt and/or fish continues to decline, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (Survey), which was recently released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It indicates that 5 percent of the U.S. population 16 years of age and older hunted in 2006. The actual estimated number of active hunters in 2006 was 12.5 million. That compares to 13.0 million active hunters in 2001-a drop of 4 percent.

Whereas more people in the United States fish than hunt, a decline in participation was more pronounced for anglers during the same time frame. In 2006, an estimated 30.0 million North Americans, 16 and older, went fishing. In 2001, 34.1 million people fished-a 12-percent reduction.

A national (U.S.) survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation has been conducted every five years since 1955. It had provided a baseline to monitor changes in participation rates of hunting, angling and certain other forms of outdoor recreation, such as wildlife watching, feeding and wildlife photography. The surveys also document expenditures related to all types of wildlife-related recreation. In 2006, $122.3 billion were spent on all forms of wildlife-related recreational activities. This equates to 1 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, which is down slightly from the 2001 estimate of $123.4 billion.

Due to changes in data-collection methodology, the Survey can only be reliably compared to information from the 1991, 1996 and 2001 surveys. Even so, the long-term trends indicate declines in both hunters, down 11 percent from 1991, and anglers, down nearly 16 percent.

The long-term trend indications notwithstanding, data for 2006 need to be considered in the context that not all hunters and anglers pursue their sport every year. The survey accounts for this by estimating the number of hunters and anglers who were active during the preceding five-year period, 2002 to 2006. Using these criteria, it was estimated that there are 18.6 million hunters and 44.4 million anglers in the country, which likely is much more representative of the actual numbers.

The survey provides a wealth of information relative to many aspects of wildlife-related recreation in the United States.