Hunter Numbers Are Up: Good News for Conservation
By Matt Schauer

Posted: August 16, 2012

A report from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation shows when more people are hunting, it is good news for conservation.

It’s pretty remarkable that 13.7 million people (6 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older) went hunting last year. The 2011 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife – Associated Recreation shows a 9 percent increase over 2006.  This reversed a previous downward trend.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data show hunters spent $34 billion last year on equipment, licenses, trips and other items to support their hunting activities.  Here is how the dollars break down:

  • $10.4 billion on trip-related expenditures.
  • $14 billion on equipment such as guns, camping items and 4-wheel drives.
  • $9.6 billion on licenses, land leasing and ownership and stamps.

Because of the increase in hunter activity and thanks to hunter-generated dollars, RMEF protected or enhanced more than 6.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. RMEF also added “hunting heritage” to its mission statement.  A commitment to ensure a future for wildlife conservation through hunter-based support.

Here is what David Allen, RMEF president and CEO had to say:

“This is great news for everyone in the hunting and conservation community,” said Allen. “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.”

“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

The 2011 FWS report contains preliminary numbers and the final report is due in November. Click here to read it in its entirety.