St. Paul — Hunter and angler numbers, after decades of decline across the nation, increased during the past five years, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced last week.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the number of fishermen rose 11 percent compared to the 2006 survey; the number of hunters rose 9 percent.
Salazar, noting the long-term decline in participation in fishing and hunting, said, “There is good reason to be hopeful.”
The statistics are based on U.S. Census Bureau interviews with nearly 50,000 households. It’s been conducted every five years since 1955.
But if the number of hunters and anglers nationwide has increased 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively, license sales show Minnesota hasn’t followed the trend.
From 2006 to 2010, the number of certified paid anglers rose from 1,478,193 to 1,492,529. That’s 14,336 more anglers, but it also represents an increase of less than 1 percent. And the number of paid anglers in 2010 is down from 1999, when there were 1,565,443 of them.
In 2006, there were 578,244 certified paid hunters in the state. There were 579,572 in 2010, which amounts to an increase of 1,508 – or less than 1 percent.
Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief, noted the national numbers are based on surveys, while the state’s numbers are actual license sales. He also noted that much of Minnesota’s license sales are driven by the number of deer licenses people buy.
“That has been very stable,” Simon said. “My perception is we are not adding licenses at the rate that might be indicated in the national survey.”
The report released last week doesn’t include a state-by-state breakdown; that’s slated for release in coming months.
Still, federal officials say the report contains plenty of good news.
“This preliminary report indicates that we are seeing an increase in participation from younger America,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “That’s incredibly important for those of us in the conservation business that we are seeing the younger generation of Americans getting into the outdoors.”
Highlights of the report follow:
- 33.1 million people 16 years and older fished in 2011, and spent an average of 17 days on the water. Expenditures on fishing totalled $41.8 billion.
- 27.1 million anglers fished freshwater, 8.9 million fished saltwater, and 1.7 million fished the Great Lakes. The latter saw the greatest increase in anglers – 17 percent – since 2006.
- Six percent of the United States population 16 years and older– 13.7 million people – hunted in 2011. Most hunters – 11.6 million, or 85 percent – targeted big game like deer and elk; 33 percent, or 4.5 million hunters, targeted small game; and 2.6 million hunters, or 19 percent, targeted waterfowl; 2.2 million hunters, or 16 percent, targeted species such as coyotes and raccoons.
- The number of big-game hunters increased by 8 percent from 2006; migratory bird hunters by 13 percent; and those seeking “other animals” by 92 percent. The number of hunters who targeted small game fell by 6 percent.
- Hunters spent $34 billion in 2011.
- Nearly 71.8 million people 16 years and older “fed, photographed, and observed wildlife in 2011,” according to the report. These people, classified as wildlife watchers, spent $55 billion on their activities in 2011.
- Hunters, fishermen, and wildlife watchers spent a total of $145 billion on wildlife-related recreation in 2011. That amounts to about 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.