The Number of Fishers and Hunters Continues to Decline, while Wildlife Watching Increases
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The Number of Fishers and Hunters Continues to Decline, while Wildlife Watching Increases

September 2007

A comparison of estimates of the 2006 and 2001 Surveys of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reveals that millions of Americans continue to enjoy wildlife recreation, but fewer and fewer enjoy killing for their entertainment.

Fishing In 2001, 13% of the U.S. population 16 years old and older spent an average of 17 days fishing. Comparing results of the 2006 Survey and 2001 Surveys reveals that the number of all anglers declined 12%.

The biggest declines in fishing participation were Great Lakes fishing which dropped 23% and Saltwater fishing which dropped 15%. Excluding the Great Lakes, freshwater fishing participation decreased by 10%.

Hunting Five percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, 12.5 million people, hunted in 2006. They spent an average of 18 days pursuing their sport. The number of all hunters declined by 4% from 2001 to 2006.

Although the total number of hunters declined from 2001 to 2006, the number of big game hunters held their own. The biggest declines were in migratory bird hunting (-22%) and small animal hunting (-12%).

Wildlife Watching Thirty-one percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older fed, observed, or photographed wildlife in 2006. These wildlife watchers increased in number by 8% from 2001 to 2006. Their expenditures for trips, equipment, and other items increased 2%.

From 2001 to 2006, expenditures for wildlife-watching equipment (binoculars, cameras, etc.) increased by 20% and for wildlife-watching trips by 40%.

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