St. Paul — It’s little surprise that lots of Minnesotans fish and hunt.
More striking is the extent to which Minnesotans participate in comparison to other states. As a percentage of the population, only residents of Alaska fish and hunt more.
According to the most recent figures released as part of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 34 percent of Minnesotans hunted or fished in 2011; 45 percent of Alaskans did so.
“This indicates that still, as we know, hunting and fishing are very important parts of Minnesota’s culture,” said Ed Boggess, director of the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division. “This reaffirms that.”
Minnesota also was behind only Alaska in terms of the percentage of residents who only fished. Twenty-two percent of Minnesotans did, compared to 25 percent of Alaskans.
The numbers offer the first overview of state-by-state results of the national survey. A previous release of national numbers showed the number of fishermen rose 11 percent from the 2006 survey, and that hunter numbers rose by 9 percent.
The statistics are based on U.S. Census Bureau interviews with nearly 50,000 households. The study has been conducted every five years since 1955.
The number of hunting and fishing license sales in Minnesota don’t jibe with those national numbers. Instead, they’ve been mostly stable, Boggess said.
“The national trends this survey indicates are accurate,” he said. “I just think Minnesota has been steady as she goes in terms of participation in hunting and fishing, while other states have slipped down and are now coming back up.”
As a result, state officials are especially interested in other parts of the survey – how much hunters and anglers spend, and how Minnesota stacks up to other states, for example.
Across the U.S., 16 percent of the population hunted or fished in 2011. The lowest rate was in California, where 7 percent of the state residents hunted or fished. States around Minnesota had relatively high participation rates: Iowa (25 percent); North Dakota (18 percent); South Dakota (30 percent); and Wisconsin (27 percent).