Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Number of hunters and anglers declining, but wildlife watching on the rise

Although not an endangered species, the number of American hunters dropped by about 1.5 million from 1996 to 2006, reports David Cray for The Associated Press. The number of hunters older than 16 fell from 14 million to about 12.5 million, a 10 percent drop, according to new figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That decrease means a loss of sorely needed license-fee revenue for wildlife agencies, which depend on the fees for the majority of their budgets, Cray writes.

Fewer Americans were fishing, too, with the numbers down from 35.2 million in 1996 to 30 million in 2006. Experts point toward increased urbanization as the key cultural factor, Cray writes, as public approval of hunting has remained high -- with about 75 percent of Americans supporting the activity. Cray also reports that last month, President George Bush asked that public lands be reviewed by federal agencies in an effort to find more hunting spaces. (Read more)

The new data also show a 13 percent increase in the number of bird watchers, wildlife photographers and other wildlife watchers from 62.8 million in 1996 to 71.1 million in 2006.

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