There is no doubt traditional outdoor activities are as natural to humans as sleeping and eating.
But in recent decades, U.S. residents have been spending more time in front of digital screens and less in nature. To help bolster participation in fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing, a robust effort has been mounted by gear manufacturers, conservation organizations and state and federal agencies to attract Americans – particularly youth – to the time-honored activities. So, how are we doing?
Wildlife viewing is doing well, fishing is hanging in there and hunting is declining. The results are contained in the recently released 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
The report, released every five years since 1955 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is one of the nation's best check-ups on the health of key outdoor sectors.
The 2016 survey showed a 20% increase in wildlife watching, an 8% rise in fishing and a 14% decline in hunting. The estimates are derived from interviews with Americans age 16 and older.
The 2016 report is based on data collected from 22,416 households selected by the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau conducted the interviews from April 2016 through February 2017.
The most substantial increase in participation was seen in wildlife watching, defined as observing and photographing wildlife. Since it can be done without leaving home, and even at a place of work, it's not surprising more Americans watch wildlife than fish or hunt. But the large increase over the last five years was notable. According to the report, wildlife watching increased to 86 million participants, a 20% rise from 2011. Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose sharply (28%) to $75.9 billion.
Participation Up in Wildlife Viewing and Fishing, Down in Hunting
By Paul Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 4, 2017
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Link to Survey