Thirty-eight percent of Americans over 16 years of age hunted, fished, or participated in some kind of wildlife-related activity in 2011, according to the quinquennial national survey issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In pursuit of their interests, these sportsmen and women spent $145 billion, or one dollar out of every hundred dollars of goods and services produced in the U.S.
Compared to the prior national survey, released in 2006, there was a 9 percent increase in hunting, with the biggest gains seen among migratory bird hunters. Fishing participation increased by 11 percent. Numbers of wildlife-watchers stayed steady.
The economic impact of outdoor sports and recreation is widespread, with money spent on equipment, travel and lodging, licenses and fees, membership dues and contributions, land leasing and ownership, and plantings for hunting. From local guides and restaurant workers to airlines and national manufacturers, numerous sectors of the economy benefit from Americans’ enthusiasm to enjoy the outdoors and connect with the natural world.
Wildlife-associated recreation also results in significant financial support for conservation. A report from the American Sportsfishing Organization points out that anglers’ purchase of license fees and payment of excise taxes on tack and on motorboat fuel fund state fish and wildlife agency projects that improve water quality and support fisheries’ and habitat conservation, contributing to the nation’s overall environmental health.