MISSOULA, Mont. — Recent data shows a nine percent increase in hunter participation among Americans nationwide from 2006 to 2011.
A study funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked “why?” and offered a variety of factors including the economic recession, the locavore movement, returning military personnel and an influx of new hunters including those who are younger, female and suburban.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation praised the study and its findings.
“Hunting is a way of life. It is an American tradition and more and more people are realizing the importance it plays in all our lives,” David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, said.
“Different people hunt for different reasons whether to put food on the table, they want a more natural source of food, they have more or better access to lands to hunt, or they’re trying it for the first time. But the bottom line is more hunters and more hunting is good news for conservation, wildlife and wildlife habitat.”
Much of the work, including more than 1,400 interviews in 10 states over an 18-month period, was done by Responsive Management, a public opinion research organization specializing in survey research on natural resource and outdoor recreation issues. The study suggests 10 major reasons for the increase:
• The economic recession
• Higher incomes among some segments of the population
• Hunting for meat and the locavore movement
• Agency recruitment and retention programs
• Agency access programs
• Agency marketing and changes in licenses
• Current hunters and anglers participating more often
• Returning military personnel
• Re-engagement of lapsed hunters
• New hunters and anglers including female, suburban and young participants
"The fact that a variety of factors was responsible for the increases should not take away from the importance of each individual factor,” Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, said.