Wildlife-related activities still a hit 40 percent of adults spent $101 billion last year


November 30, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

C According to a nationwide survey taken for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly 40 percent of adults enjoyed wildlife-related recreation last year and spent $101 billion in the process.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation was conducted last year by the U.S. Census Bureau for the USFWS.

The survey has been taken every five years since 1955.

The survey also showed the number of hunters and fishermen remains relatively unchanged from the 1991 report:

There were 35.2 million fishermen (35.6 million in 1991).

There were 14 million hunters (14.1 million in 1991).

However, anglers fished an additional 115 million days in 1996 and hunters spent 21 million more days afield than in 1991.

After adjustments for inflation, the survey found fishermen spent 37 percent more than in 1991, while hunters spent 43 percent more for trips and equipment.

"What this means is that the nation's wildlife continues to benefit from an active, committed constituency within the American public," said USFWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.

" It is good news -- for wildlife and the next generation -- that in the age of the Internet, cable television, and increasing distractions and demands on people's time, centuries-old activities continue to play a strong role in Americans' lifestyles."

Tax dollars raised from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment fund many federal and state fisheries and wildlife management programs as well as refuges and wildlife management areas.

While participation in wildlife watching, feeding and photography dropped by 17 percent over five years, spending for trips and equipment increased by 21 percent.

The Census Bureau screened 80,000 households and selected 28,000 men and women who hunt or fish and 14,400 other wildlife recreationalists for detailed interviews.

Wildlife recreation facts

According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, these facts pertained to hunters and fishermen active last year:

Fishing: 35.2 million, or 17 percent of the population over the age of 16, fished.

Fishermen spent a total of 626 million days fishing and took 507 million fishing trips.

Fishermen spent $38 billion on fishing-related expenses.

Seventy-three percent of fishermen are men.

Freshwater anglers number 29.7 million, while 9.4 million fish saltwater.

The top three saltwater species are: flatfish, bluefish and striped bass.

The top three freshwater fish (excluding Great Lakes species) are: black bass, trout and panfish.

Hunting: 14 million people, or 7 percent of the population over 16, hunted.

They spent 257 million days hunting and took 223 million trips.

Hunters spent $20.6 billion on hunting-related expenses.

Ninety-one percent of hunters are men.

The most popular species hunted are:

Big game: deer, wild turkey, elk.

Small game: squirrels, rabbits, pheasants; migratory birds, doves, ducks, geese.

Rockfish alternative

With the end of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay rockfish season, die-hard striper fishermen might want to head for the surf or the inshore coastal waters.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, there should be at least one more week of good fishing for migratory rockfish (28-inch minimum, year-round in Atlantic coastal waters), which are making their way south to wintering grounds off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts.

The inlet at Ocean City, the Route 50 bridge and the sloughs that run to and from inshore shoals all are good possibilities for late-fall striper fishing.

Wildlife division changes

Joshua Sandt, head of DNR's Wildlife Division for the past five years, has been replaced by Mike Slattery, who has been with the division for 11 years.

Sandt, who has been closely involved with the state's deer management plan for more than a decade, will head the Conservation Resources Enhancement Program, a $250-million project intended to increase wildlife habitat across the state.

Slattery moves into the head slot from the Heritage Biodiversity Conservation Program.

Pub Date: 11/30/97

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