By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The number of Americans who participate in hunting and fishing for recreation has been decreasing for decades as America has grown increasingly more urbanized. The Department of the Interior released a report on Wednesday showing that that trend has significantly reversed.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage. Outdoor recreation and tourism are huge economic engines for local communities and the country, so it is vital that we continue to support policies and investments that help Americans get outside, learn to fish, or go hunting. That is why, through President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have been focused on helping Americans rediscover the joys of casting a line, passing along family hunting traditions, and protecting the places they love.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation reported that the number of hunters nationwide increased by 9% and the number of anglers has grown by 11% since USFWS did their last report in 2006.
The report said that almost 38% of all Americans participated in some sort of wildlife-related recreation during 2011. That is an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. The nation’s hunters and sport fishermen spent $145 billion on gear, trips and purchases including licenses, tags, land leasing and land ownership in 2011. This total equals 1% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
During 2011, 13.7 million people went hunting. Hunters spent $34 billion according to the USFWS. The average hunter spent $2,484 on hunting related activities in 2011. Over 33 million people went fishing in 2011. The average angler spent $1,262 on fishing related activities during 2011. According to the USFWS report 71 million people were involved in wildlife watching during 2011. Wildlife watchers spent $55 billion on their activities.
USFWS Director Dan Ashe said, “The Fish and Wildlife Service is dedicated to connecting people and families with nature. We look forward to continuing to work with the States, non-governmental organizations, and additional partners to help keep recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching going strong for people across America’s great outdoors.”
The report was generated by the U.S. Census Bureau interviewing 48,627 households. The Census Bureau used the sample to identify the hunters, the anglers, and the wildlife watchers. The surveys were done with both computer-assisted telephone interviews and in-person interviews.
State by state numbers will be released in a followup report.