By Paul A. Smith of the Journal Sentinel - Aug. 15, 2012 1:42 p.m.
Reversing a decades-long downturn, the number of hunters and anglers in America increased by about 10% over the last five years, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday in Milwaukee by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,” said Salazar.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9% while anglers grew by 11%.
Salazar made the announcement at the Urban Ecology Center's facility near Riverside Park. The Secretary's visit is part of a four-state swing through the Midwest to highlight recent conservation achievements as well as activities related to America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a program started under President Obama.
As part of the trip, Salazar is scheduled to announce the formal creation of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, an 11,500-acre project in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
Salazar called the results of the outdoor recreation survey "outstanding news."
At the request of state fish and wildlife agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted the national survey every five years since 1955. It is viewed as one of the nation’s most important wildlife-related recreation databases and the definitive source of information concerning participation and purchases associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife-related recreation nationwide.
The preliminary report shows nearly 38% of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is dedicated to connecting people and families with nature,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “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."
Among the results announced Wednesday:
- In 2011, 13.7 million people, 6% of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, went hunting. They spent $34 billion on trips, equipment, licenses and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter.
Read the report here