Survey: Minnesota among the leaders in outdoor recreation

St. Paul. – Need more proof that Minnesota is a hotbed for
outdoor activities?

Try these numbers:

1,435,000 the number of anglers who fished in the state, fourth
behind Florida, Texas, and California.

13 percent the rate at which Minnesotans hunt, behind seven
states and tied with Missouri and Wyoming.

28 percent the rate at which Minnesotans fish, tied for first
place with Alaska.

48 percent the rate at which Minnesotans watch wildlife, tied
with Iowa and Wyoming and behind three other states.

Those are the preliminary state-specific results of the 2006
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated
Recreation, a report the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has
produced every five years since 1955. National figures were
released earlier this summer, and showed a 12 percent decline in
fishermen between 2001 and 2006, and a 4 percent drop in the number
of hunters.

The state report has two main values to the DNR, according to Ed
Boggess, deputy director of the agencys Fish and Wildlife Division:
data on hunting and fishing expenditures, and how the state stacks
up to others in terms of participation.

In 2006, anglers spent nearly $2.5 billion on fishing in the
state, an amount exceeded only in Florida and Texas. Hunters spent
about $476 million; hunters spent more in 16 other states. In 2001,
fishing expenditures totaled about $1.285 billion, while hunting
expenditures totaled about $482 million, Boggess said.

According to the survey, there are about 1,435,000 anglers
(residents and non-residents) over the age of 16 who fish in the
state, and about 541,000 hunters (residents and non-residents).

The USFWS estimates are different than state license-sales data.
State numbers show there were about 1,478,000 anglers and 578,000
hunters in 2006. The federal data still are useful, though, since
the same methods were used to collect them in every state.

Per capita, Minnesota ranks first in hunting participation,
Boggess said.

Weve known were maintaining fairly constant hunter numbers
compared to some other states, he said. Even though our state
population is growing, we know weve been, trend-wise, faring a
little better than other states. We have, of course, a lot of
opportunities for hunters.

Given the number of lakes, rivers, and streams, its also not
surprising theres a high rate of participation in fishing, Boggess
said. But the picture isnt totally rosy.

We are concerned about declining participation, particularly in
fishing, which is so available in this state, he said. Thats kind
of flattened out or even declined a little bit.

Particularly as it relates to hunting, the state is unlikely to
maintain a steady participation rate as the population continues to
grow, but thats probably not a bad thing, given the demand on
hunting areas we have already, Boggess said.

According to the report, about two-thirds of all
wildlife-related recreation expenditures in 1996, 2001, and 2006
have been for hunting and fishing, despite the fact that hunters
and anglers make up a minority of wildlife-related
recreationists.

Boggess also said its good that there is a high number of people
who watch wildlife in the state, but that, we would like to see
that translate into support for conservation.

While theres a willingness within that sector to help out,
wildlife watchers currently dont have a direct mechanism hunters
and fishermen have license fees, for example by which to
contribute, he said.

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