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Willoughby: Wildlife-related participation on the upswing

By Scott Willoughby The Denver Post The Denver Post

As we head into 2013, among the highlights of 2012 for outdoorsmen is a survey from 2011.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its final report last week on the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, providing more information on the preliminary review of the survey announced last August. Among other details, the final version of the national survey conducted every five years since 1955 confirms a dramatic increase in wildlife-related outdoor recreation from 2006-11.

The 3 percent rise in wildlife recreation driven by a significant increase in hunting and fishing participation is a different sort of data from what the USFWS has seen in decades. After years of steady decline among hunters and fishermen, the number of men and women surveyed who hunt or fish rose from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011.

Based upon license sales, Colorado wildlife officials say our state is not a part of the recent national growth trend. The USFWS will begin releasing individual state data alphabetically this month.

Highlights of the 2011 national survey's final report include:

• More than 90 million U.S. residents 16 and older participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011. That's an increase of 3 percent from five years earlier.

• Wildlife recreationists spent $144.7 billion in 2011 on their activities, which equated to 1 percent of the gross domestic product. Of the total amount spent, $49.5 billion was trip-related, $70.4 billion was spent on equipment and $24.8 billion was spent on other items such as licenses and land leasing and ownership.

• Of the rise in sportspersons from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011, the data show that 33.1 million people fished, 13.7 million hunted and 71.8 million participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity such as observing, feeding and photographing wildlife.

In fishing and hunting:

• Of the 13.7 million hunters who took to the field in 2011, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million hunted small game, 2.6 million hunted migratory birds and 2.2 million hunted other animals.

• Of the 33.1 million anglers who fished, 27.5 million freshwater fished and 8.9 million saltwater fished.

• While 94 percent of the U.S. population 16 and older resided in metropolitan areas (50,000 and over population), 89 percent of all anglers and 80 percent of all hunters were metro residents.

• 73 percent (24.2 million) of all anglers were male and 27 percent (8.9 million) were female. Also, 89 percent (12.2 million) of all hunters were male and 11 percent (1.5 million) were female.

The survey, started in 1955 at the request of state fish and wildlife agencies, is viewed as one of the nation's most important wildlife-related recreation databases and the definitive source of information for participation and purchases associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife-related recreation nationwide.

The U.S. Census Bureau selected more than 48,600 households across the country to gather samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers for detailed interviews. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.

Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993, swilloughby@denverpost.com





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