You all know where my biases lie, but let me once again say that fish & wildlife and outdoor recreation are VITAL to Nebraska!
This is very important not only economically and because we appreciate our fish & wildlife resources and outdoor recreation, but also because hunters, anglers, and trappers very much pay for the conservation of our fish & wildlife resources. For that reason, the long-term decline in the numbers of hunters and anglers have been a concern. Fish & wildlife agencies around the country have become engaged in efforts to recruit, develop and retain more hunters, anglers and trappers. Fortunately, I have been hearing some good news on that front recently, http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Salazar-Survey-Delivers-Great-News-for-Americas-Economy-and-Conservation-Heritage.cfm .
AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOOORS: Reversing Decades of Decline, the Number of Hunters and Anglers is on the Rise
Salazar: Survey Delivers ‘Great News for America’s Economy and Conservation Heritage’
Contact: Blake Androff (DOI): 202-208-6416
Kim Betton (FWS): 703-358-2081
MILWAUKEE, WI – Highlighting the reversal of decades of declining numbers, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the results of a comprehensive national survey of outdoor recreation showing a significant increase in hunters and a double-digit increase in anglers over the past five years.
“Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,” said Salazar. “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 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent while anglers grew by 11 percent. Nearly 38 percent 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.”
Other key findings include:
• In 2011, 13.7 million people, 6 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, went hunting. They spent $34.0 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter. • More than 33 million people 16 and older fished in 2011, spending $41.8 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items, an average of $1,262 per angler. • More than 71 million people engaged in wildlife watching in 2011, spending $55.0 billion on their activities
At the request of state fish and wildlife agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting 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.
“State agencies, hunters and anglers are the key funders of fish and wildlife conservation through their license and gear purchases,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “An increase in participation and expenditure rates means that agencies can continue to restore and improve habitat and fish and wildlife species, bring more youth into the outdoors and provide even greater access to recreational activities.”
The U.S. Census Bureau interviewed 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers for detailed interviews. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.
The Survey is funded through a Multi-State Conservation Grant from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, which celebrates 75 years of conservation success in 2012.
The report is the first in a series that the Service will release. The next report of findings will contain State data and will be available in the coming months. In late November, the National Report with more detail participation and expenditure estimates will be available online. From December 2012 to May 2013, the 50 State reports will be released on a rolling basis.
The results of the National Overview report can be found here.
On a state level, I can tell you that our fishing permit sales have been significantly higher this year, the highest we have seen in years. I do not know that I know all the reasons for more folks going fishing this year; our recruitment efforts may have had something to do with it, a couple years of good water conditions in the state and the resulting fishing opportunities sure have not hurt either. I also wonder if folks are more likely to stay close to home and take advantage of nearby outdoor recreational opportunities in a “tight” economy where they may not have as much money to spend on a more extravagant far-away vacation? One thing I am sure of is that the very mild weather we had in early spring this year resulted in sales of more fishing permits–our permit sales were much higher than normal in early spring this year.
Here is another news story that confirms some of my thoughts:
For Immediate Release: August 28, 2012
Economy, Recruitment Programs Lead to Growth in Hunting, Fishing Participation
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — When the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently reported the number of hunters grew by nine percent since 2006 and the number of anglers grew by 11 percent in that same time frame, sportsmen and the sporting industry were thrilled. The numbers, which are preliminary results released as the initial look into the USFWS’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, reversed what had been dropping participation levels in fishing over the past 10 years and indicated the first jump in hunter numbers in more than two decades. But what were the reasons for the turnaround?
Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which is a leading research and data analysis firm focused on the sportfishing and hunting industries, says the evidence points to several key factors.
“The slow economy has certainly had an impact”, says Southwick. “When the economy took a hit, a lot of people went back to enjoying more traditional activities that were also less costly than other options. Fishing license sales and tackle sales data all back that up.”
In addition to simple economics, on-going efforts to recruit new anglers are paying off. Southwick points to programs such as the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing National Campaign, which has been instrumental in introducing the sport to thousands of new anglers. Demographic shifts are also having an impact.
“Initial feedback indicates more baby boomers may be taking to the water”, says Southwick. The company and the USFWS will be looking at additional data in the coming months to identify other potential trends among youth and other segments of the angling community.
“We’ll be looking closely for shifts in youth and female participation. By the end of the year, we’ll know more”, says Southwick.
On the hunting side, the growth in participation is due to the same factors where the economy and recruitment programs are concerned.
“This is the first measured large increase in the number of hunters in years”, says Southwick. “Conservation and firearms industry organizations have been particularly effective at communicating the benefits of hunting.”
Organizations such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance all have programs geared toward growing youth and overall participation and have even teamed up to ease age restrictions that deterred many young people from participating in hunting. Additionally, expanded hunting opportunities such as allowing the use of crossbows in a number of states has made hunting more attractive to many new and returning hunters.
“Probably one of the most significant changes has been an apparent cultural shift regarding the acceptance and use of firearms,” says Southwick. Whether hunting or target shooting, many younger adults in their twenties and early thirties, are taking to shooting sports. Firearms sales have been strong for four years. Whether this is attributable to returning soldiers with a newly found appreciation of the shooting sports or to adults who want to get outside after spending too much of their youth indoors, we need to learn more about the reasons behind the increase”, says Southwick.
Southwick says there will be more details to come as his team reviews the data to identify more trends behind the growth in hunting and fishing and offers organizations the insight to keep these trends headed in a positive direction.
About Southwick Associates: Southwick Associates was founded in 1989 to serve state fish and wildlife agencies, as well as the sportfishing and hunting industries. We specialize in economic and business statistics related to fish and wildlife. Our expertise includes measuring retail expenditures by anglers, hunters, wildlife viewers and other outdoor recreationists; quantifying the jobs, tax revenues and other economic impacts of outdoor recreation; tracking trends within outdoor industries; identifying major distribution channels and the overall structure of specific outdoor-related industries; and analyzing the value of fish and wildlife resources and their uses including land transactions, new business ventures, fish kills and more. Visit us at www.southwickassociates.com.
In some ways this seems contradictory–more permit sales means more anglers and more pressure on our fisheries resources. It also means more anglers fishing my favorite spots! I have reconciled that contradiction in my mind by remembering that the more folks who enjoy our outdoor resources and participate in hunting, fishing and trapping, the more folks there are who appreciate and care for those resources. We not only need the funding from permit sales and excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment, we also need the understanding and support of the folks we work for–hunters, anglers, and trappers in particular. Our job as resource managers is to take care of, manage, our natural resources in the best long-term interest of those resources and the people. If we have more folks using those resources it may create some more management challenges, but we very much need the support!
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”–Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist