Number of Young Hunters & Fishermen "Stabilizing"

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Recruitment rates of youngsters in hunting and fishing have stabilized after declining through the 1990s, according to a new report based on preliminary data from the 2006 National Surveys of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation and information from previous surveys.

“These rates are critical to the future of fish and wildlife conservation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall. “The North American model of wildlife conservation, a system that keeps wildlife as a public and sustainable resource, scientifically managed by professionals and agencies such as the Service and state counterparts, is funded in large part by hunters and anglers.”

“From 1990 to 2000 there was a steady decline in the percent of kids living at home who had ever participated in fishing and hunting,” said Service economist Jerry Leonard, who authored the report. “During the last five years this decline has stabilized. Now, 42 percent of our nation’s youth have gone fishing and 8 percent have gone hunting at least once.”

The report also shows that many first time hunters and anglers about 33 percent of all first timers -- are 21-years-old and older. Recruitment declined the least among those with higher incomes, those living in less populated areas of the U.S., and those living in the Midwest.

In contrast, the greatest declines were among people with the lowest incomes, those living in urban areas, and those in the New England and Pacific coastal, Rocky Mountain and Southwestern states. The document, Fishing and Hunting Recruitment and Retention in the U.S. from 1990 to 2005, is available at <>.

It is based on a preliminary review of information being compiled for the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, and on information collected during the 1991, 1996, and 2001 Surveys. The Survey, conducted every 5 years since 1955, is one of the Nation’s most important wildlife recreation databases. The Survey is conducted at the request of the National Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The U.S. Census Bureau collects the information and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analyzes the results and writes the reports. The Survey is considered to be the definitive source of information concerning participation and expenditures associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife recreation nationwide.

Though recruitment rates of children have stabilized, retention rates for fishing continued to decline from 2000 to 2005.

“In 1990, 65 percent of anglers fished in the previous three years,” said Leonard. “That number fell to 61 percent by 1995, 60 percent by 2000 and 57 percent by 2005.”

Hunting retention rates look better.

“Hunting retention rates leveled off in the last five years,” said Leonard. “During this period, the conservation community maintained 43 percent of hunters after losing 4 percent from 1990 to 1995 and 2 percent from 1995 to 2000.”

This summer, the Service expects to release information on the number of people who fished, hunted, and observed wildlife in 2006, and the amount of money they spent on these activities. Representatives of the media interested in advisories and possible announcements can be included on a media list by sending an e-mail with name, affiliation, e-mail address and phone number to .

The Survey is funded by an excise tax on firearms, ammunition, archery and fishing equipment, and a tax on small-engine boats fuel under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts. A wide range of individuals and groups depend on the Survey to provide an analysis of hunting and fishing participation, total monies spent on outdoor recreation and demographic characteristics of wildlife recreation participants.

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