Report: Led by Great Lakes area, U.S. sees increase in fishing participation

More Americans went fishing over the last five years, with the greatest increases in fishing participation in the Great Lakes area.

More Americans went fishing over the last five years. And the greatest increases in fishing participation – 10 percent – were seen in the Great Lakes area.

That’s according to a new preliminary report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shows that 101.6 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older – participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, such as hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching.

On the fishing side, the survey indicates an 8 percent increase in angling participation since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016. Total expenditures by anglers nationwide rose 2 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $45 billion to $46.1 billion.

Meanwhile, hunting participation dropped by about 2 million participants – the report indicated that there are about 11.5 million hunters nationwide. Total expenditures by hunters declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. However, expenditures for related items such as taxidermy and camping equipment experienced a 27-percent uptick, and hunting trip-related expenses increased 15 percent.

The survey, the 13th in a series conducted nearly every five years since 1955, shows that the most substantial increases in participation involve wildlife-watching – observing, feeding and photographing wildlife. The report indicates these activities increased 20 percent from 2011 to 2016, from 71.8 million to 86 million participants during that time.

Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose significantly – 28 percent – between 2011 and 2016, from $59.1 billion to $75.9 billion. Around-the-home wildlife-watching increased 18 percent from 2011, from 68.6 million in 2011 to 81.1 million participants in 2016. More modest gains were made for away-from-home wildlife watchers – 5 percent increase from 2011 to 2016, from 22.5 million to 23 million participants.

This year’s survey also gathered two new categories of data: archery and target shooting. Findings show there are more than 32 million target shooters using firearms and 12.4 million people engaged in archery, not including hunting.

Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the survey is based on a 22,416-household sample surveyed through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.

For more information about the survey and to view the preliminary report, visit https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/National_Survey.htm

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