Good News for Conservation: Hunter Numbers Up

By Hunting NetworkAugust 20, 2012

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

One of the growing fears among hunters and conservationists is that hunter numbers will drop so low that we’ll ultimately lose our rights to hunt and pursue wildlife.  However, a new study from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation offers encouragement.

A new report that shows more people are hunting is good news for conservation, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The just-released 2011 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older, went hunting last year. That marks a 9 percent increase over 2006, reversing a previous downward trend.

“This is great news for everyone in the hunting and conservation community,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “But it’s even better news for our conservation efforts to protect and improve habitat for elk and other wildlife. We strongly believe that hunting is conservation. This is also a reflection of the importance of our hunting legacy of the past and our hunting heritage as we look to the future.”

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Thanks to hunter-generated dollars, RMEF protected or enhanced more than 6.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. RMEF also recently added “hunting heritage” to its mission statement, reaffirming a commitment to ensuring a future for wildlife conservation through hunter-based support.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service data show hunters spent $34 billion last year on equipment, licenses, trips and other items to support their hunting activities. If you break down the numbers, sportsmen and women spent $10.4 billion on trip-related expenditures, $14 billion on equipment such as guns, camping items and 4-wheel drives, and $9.6 billion on licenses, land leasing and ownership and stamps.

“The more hunters spend on firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows and hunting licenses and permits, the more money is generated to provide the necessary funding for successful science-based wildlife management across the United States,” added Allen.

Here are some brief highlights from the report:

13.7 million hunters in 2011 compared to 12.5 million in 2006 (9 percent increase)
Hunters spent an average of 21 days in the field
1.8 million 6 to 15 year olds hunted in 2011
Big game attracted 11.6 million hunters (8 percent increase since 2006)
Hunting-related expense increased 30 percent since 2006
The overall participation of hunters increased more than 5 percent since 2001
Total hunter expenditures increased 27 percent since 2001
Expenditures by hunters, anglers &wildlife-recreationists were $145 billion or 1 percent of gross domestic product

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