More than 90 million U.S. residents age 16 and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011, up 3 percent from five years earlier, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released this week.
In total, outdoors enthusiasts spent $144.7 billion in 2011 on their activities — accounting for about 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
The findings come from the final national report with results from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
Conducted since 1955, the survey is one of the oldest continuing and most comprehensive recreation surveys in the U.S., collecting information on the number of anglers, hunters and wildlife watchers, as well as how often they participate in wildlife-related recreation and how much they spend on these activities.
According to the survey, wildlife recreationists spent $70.4 billion on equipment, $49.5 billion on travel and $24.8 billion on other items, such as licenses and land leasing and ownership.
The number of people who hunted, fished or both rose from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011, with 33.1 million people fishing and 13.7 million hunting. The survey showed that 71.8 million people participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity, such as observing, feeding and photographing wildlife.
Of the 33.1 million people who fished, 27.5 million fished in fresh water and 8.9 million in salt water.
The most popular fish sought by freshwater anglers, excluding Great Lakes fishing, were black bass (10.6 million anglers) and panfish (7.3 million anglers). The most popular fish sought by Great Lakes anglers were walleye and sauger (584,000 anglers) and black bass (559,000 anglers).
About 1.9 million people ice-fished and 4.3 million fly-fished.
Anglers spent $41.8 billion on fishing trips, equipment and other items in 2011 — an average of $1,262 per angler.
Of the 13.7 million hunters who took to the field in 2011, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million hunted small game, 2.6 million hunted migratory birds and 2.2 million hunted other animals.
Ninety-three percent of hunters used a shotgun, rifle or other similar firearm; 33 percent used a bow and arrow; and 22 percent used a muzzleloader.
Nearly all hunters (approximately 94 percent) hunted in the state where they lived, while 14 percent hunted in other states.
Hunters spent $33.7 billion on hunting trips, equipment and other items in 2011 — an average of $2,465 per hunter.