The latest National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated
Recreation (See the Nov. issue of Conservation Force
) says the US lost two million hunters in the last
five years. Two million. This survey is conducted by the US Census
Bureau for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies every five
years. The number of hunters decreased from 13.7 million in 2011 to 11.5
million in 2016. What does that mean in real terms?
2011 we spent $36.3 billion on hunting; in 2016 we spent $25.6 billion.
That's a loss of $10.7 billion
some of that goes to our state fish and wildlife departments for their
conservation efforts, either directly from hunting licenses or through
Pitman-Robertson (P-R) funds, which are collected from excise taxes on
hunting and shooting equipment and allocated based on how licenses were
sold. A license not purchased means the state lost funding twice. Less
hunting and shooting equipment purchased translates to a smaller P-R
fund; fewer licenses sold means a smaller piece of the P-R pie. It's a
vicious death spiral.
The North American
Conservation Model depends on funding through licenses and P-R funds. A
significant loss in the number of sportsmen puts this at risk. Although
we are not at the brink of collapse yet, the trend is unmistakable.
Since the 1980s, hunting participation has steadily declined. Baby
boomers are getting older, and the generations behind them aren't
hunting in sufficient numbers....