Hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching activities have increased in 28 U.S. states over the last five years, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report shows that the largest increase – 47 percent – occurred in Alaska, with Louisiana a close second at 40 percent.
The State Overview is the second of a series of reports on the National Survey, which has been conducted every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau since 1955. The Bureau interviewed residents of 48,627 households across the country to estimate the number of hunters, anglers, and wildlife-watchers active in all 50 states, and to also measure how much money they spend on related equipment, travel, taxes, and license fees.
The report reveals that South Dakota has the highest proportion of residents who hunt – 21 percent. Alaska beats all other states at the percentage of fishermen – 41 percent. And Vermont has the most wildlife-watchers – 53 percent.
Part one of the National Survey report, called the National Overview, was released in August 2012 and gives an overview of hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated recreation participation and expenditures at the national level. Nationwide, people spent $145 billion dollars on these activities in 2011. The funds provide vital support to rural communities as well as conservation efforts, and are a reflection of the public’s commitment to preserving wildlife, said USFWS Director Dan Ashe in a press release.
The National Overview also reports that the number of U.S. residents that either hunt, fish, or watch wildlife increased by 2.6 million to 91.1 million since 2006 and includes 38 percent of all Americans over the age of 16. The amount of recreation by anglers increased by 11 percent, and hunting increased by 9 percent – reversing a 10 percent decline in hunting during the previous decade between 1996 and 2006.
The USFWS will release a final version of the two documents in November in addition to individual reports for all 50 states on a rolling schedule beginning in December. The reports are especially important to state and federal natural resources agencies to ensure that opportunities for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation continue to be provided.