The 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation just came out last month. Overall, the survey found a substantial increase in wildlife based activity participation by Americans. In 2016 alone, 101.6 million Americans (40% of the population) participated in fishing and hunting as well as wildlife activities, and spent $156 billion.
The “National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” has been conducted every five years since 1955. The most recent study saw increases in wildlife observing and fishing with a small decline in hunting.
Between 2011 and 2016 there was a 20% surge in wildlife observation and photography which translated into an expenditure growth of 28% ($59.1 billion to $75.9 billion). Within this time-period, fishing participation increased by 8% with an expenditure increase of 2% ($45 billion to $46.1 billion). Although there was a fall in hunting, the industry remains strong with over 11.5 million hunters nationally.
The new administration aims to sustain this growth of the industry through greater public lands access.
US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke believes that “hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage” and that the most recent survey justifies an increase in legislation to increase public land access for outdoor recreation. He accredits hunters and anglers as the “backbone of American conservation” and that “the more sportsmen and women we have, the better wildlife will be.”
Since taking office, Zinke has reversed an order banning ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge Lands, focused on growing hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands. In August, he proposed an expansion of hunting and fishing in 10 national wildlife refuges, and has also announced a goal to open BLM Sabinoso Wilderness Area to fishers, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts for the first time.
This survey makes it is evident that Americans identify with the fishing, hunting, and other wildlife recreation industries. Organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service make it possible to enjoy our public lands surrounded by wildlife.