Recent Study Shows Increase in U.S. Hunter Numbers

The preliminary results of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation has been released.  Conducted at the request of the State fish and wildlife agencies, this survey is completed every five years to measure the importance of wildlife-based recreation to the American people. This is the 12th such study since 1955 and is developed in collaboration with the States, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and national sportsmen-conservation organizations.

Although there are no surprises when it comes to the positive economic impact of hunting, angling and wildlife-based forms of recreation, few expected to see the up-tick in the estimate of hunter numbers nationally. At an estimated 6.0% of the national population, 13.7 million citizens ages 16 or older were identified as hunters. Not only is this an increase from the 2006 numbers, it even surpassed both the population percentage and total number of hunters in 2001. Angler numbers also showed an increase since 2006, but did not surpass the 2001 levels.

From the economic impact standpoint, hunters spent an average of $2,484 in 2011 as compared to $2,001 in 2001 (no, not a typo).  This change equates to a compounded rate of increase of 2.2% per year which would appear to at least be keeping up with the rate of inflation in spite of the economic decline since 2007 – pretty impressive.  Angler expenditures did decline to $1,261 in 2011 as compared to $1,576 in 2006. Nonetheless, when the average 2011 hunting and angling expenditures are totaled resulting in a combined $3,745 per year, some of you have a lot of “esplaining” to do.

Although these national tends appear to be running counter to the hunting and fishing license sales data here in Michigan, it is difficult to know how much of the State’s decline is attributable to the disproportionate economic conditions felt here in Michigan over that five-year period and how much is related to demographics.  We suspect there is also support in the results for those who have contended that the Michigan’s hunter and angler recruitment efforts had fallen behind those of other States.  That theory may be better judged in five years after the potential effects of the recently adopted Hunter Heritage legislation may be seen.

The 2011 preliminary report can be retrieved here: FWS National Preliminary Report-2011

About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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