Americans spending more dollars and days off to enjoy wildlife

provided by the U.S. Fish &WIldlife Service


hat has fur, fins, feathers and a fan club of 77 million people? It's the Nation's fish and wildlife. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults spent $101 billion on wildlife-related pursuits in 1996, according to the final report of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's most recent nationwide survey.

The 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows that adults people age 16 and older who enjoy wildlife-related activities may not be increasing in numbers but they are willing to spend more time and money to fish, hunt, and watch wildlife.

"What this means is that the Nation's wildlife continues to benefit from an active, committed constituency within the American public," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark. "These are people who, despite increasing demands on their time, put their dollars and their days off into continuing our country's fine tradition of enjoying America's wildlife legacy. It is good news for wildlife and for the next generation that in the age of the Internet, cable television, and increasing distractions and demands on people's time, centuries-old activities that bring families together, such as hunting and fishing, continue to play a strong role in Americans' lifestyles."

The national survey shows that the number of anglers and hunters in the country remained relatively unchanged from the previous report. In 1991, anglers numbered 35.6 million and there were 14.1 million hunters. In 1996, there were 35.2 million anglers and 14 million hunters.

However, 1996 anglers fished an additional 115 million days and spent 37 percent more than in 1991, when the spending totals are adjusted for inflation and other factors. Last year's hunters went afield 21 million more days and, using adjusted figures, spent 43 percent more for trips and equipment.

In addition, although participation in wildlife-watching (observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife) dropped by 17 percent down to 62.9 million participants in 1996 from 76.1 million in 1991 spending for trips and equipment increased by 21 percent, when adjusted figures are used.

The survey, which has been conducted every 5 years since 1955, was completed for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau initially screened 80,000 households, choosing 28,000 sportsmen and sportswomen and 14,400 other wildlife enthusiasts age 16 and older as subjects for detailed interviews conducted throughout the year.


Americans Enjoying Wildlife - Fast Facts

From the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation


35.2 million U.S. residents age 16 and older fished in 1996 (17% of the U.S. population)

626 million days spent fishing:

507 million fishing trips taken:

$38 billion spent on fishing-related expenses

Anglers are 27% women, 73% men

29.7 million freshwater anglers, 9.4 million saltwater anglers

Five states with the most anglers, in descending order:Florida, California, Texas, Michigan, New York

Top three most-fished species Freshwater areas other than the Great Lakes: black bass, trout, panfish Great Lakes: walleye/sauger, perch, salmon salt water: flatfish (flounder, halibut), bluefish, striped bass


14 million people 16 years old and older hunted in 1996 (7 percent of the U.S. population)

257 million days spent hunting

223 million hunting trips taken

$20.6 billion spent on hunting-related expenses

Hunters are 9% women, 91% men

Five states with the most hunters, in descending order: Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New York

Number of big game hunters: 11.3 million Small game: 6.9 million Migratory birds: 3.1 million Other game: 1.5 million

Three most popular species hunted: Big game: deer, wild turkeys, elk
Small game: squirrels, rabbits and hares, pheasants
Migratory birds: doves, ducks, geese

Wildlife Watching

62.9 million people 16 years old and older engaged in wildlife-watching in 1996 (31% of the U.S. population)

Dollars spent on wildlife-watching-related expenses: $29.2 billion

Residential wildlife-watchers (watch-ed wildlife within a mile of their homes): 60.8 million

Nonresidential wildlife watchers (watched wildlife more than a mile from their homes): 23.7 million

Residential wildlife watchers are 54% women, 46% men

Nonresidential wildlife watchers are 50% women, 50% men

Five states with the most wildlife watchers, in descending order: California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois


About FWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages 511 national wildlife refuges covering 92 million acres, as well as 67 national fish hatcheries.

The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, administers the Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes Federal excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies. This program is a cornerstone of the Nation's wildlife management efforts, funding fish and wildlife restoration, boating access, hunter education, shooting ranges, and related projects across America.

The full report of the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation is available on the Internet at or refer to, the Fish and Wildlife Service's home page. Printed copies of the survey are available by calling the Service's Publications Unit at (304) 876-7203.