As the economic situation here in America (and specifically here in North Carolina) seems to be growing worse, there is more and more interest being shown in hunting and fishing. People who are unfortunate enough to be out of work and have time on their hands are taking to the waterways and woods in search of recreation as well as a way to put food on their tables.
For the cost of a fishing or hunting license and a small investment in some equipment even a novice outdoorsperson can learn to harvest some of our abundant fish and wildlife resources.
A simple cane fishing pole, some line, a hook, float, weight and some easily obtained bait cost very little. This equipment is a bottom of the line, basic piece of fishing gear that can easily produce a decent catch of fish. There are many times that I’ve eaten a hearty meal consisting of small spots, croakers, bluegills or catfish. It isn’t necessary to have a fish filleted in order to make up a good fish dinner.
Hunters, with a little more of a basic cash outlay can purchase their license and a very basic gun that will put meat on the table. A simple, single shot, shotgun is about as basic as an all around wild game harvester as you can get. This one gun battery is fully capable of taking small game and big game as well. Small game is abundant in North Carolina and the seasons are long. That same bottom of the line shotgun can and has harvested many a whitetail deer as well. As a matter of a fact, if I were after venison for table meat I’d much prefer a nice young doe to a heavy antlered buck
Wildlife related outdoor recreation has been a favorite activity for us Tar Heels for many years and it does not have to be associated with putting meat on the table. As we’ve become more conscious of the environment the numbers of hikers, kayakers and bird watchers have been increasing dramatically.
A very recently released (preliminary) report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is based on data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Census and is quite an “eye opener” for some who don’t quite appreciate just how important our fish and wildlife resources are in America. According to this document, “The report demonstrates the value of Fish and Wildlife-Related Recreation to the American people by providing information on participation and expenditures for fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.
“Wildlife-associated recreation not only sustains our spirit and connects us to each other and the natural world, but also provides significant financial support for wildlife conservation in our nation’s economy. According to preliminary information from the latest national survey, 90 million people, 38 percent of all Americans 16 years and older, participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011 and spent $145 billion dollars. This spending supports thousands of jobs in industries and businesses connected to fishing, hunting and the observance of wildlife.
“The participation of Americans in wildlife‑related recreation is extensive and increasing, from 87.5 million in 2006 to 91.1 million in 2011. At the state level 28 States had increases in the number of wildlife‑related recreationists from 2006 to 2011, with the biggest percentage increases in Alaska (47%) and Louisiana (40%).
“The 2006–2011 increase in wildlife‑related recreation has not been reflected equally for sportspersons and wildlife watchers. 39% of wildlife‑related recreationists in 2006 were sportspersons (hunters and anglers) and 81% were wildlife watchers (the percentages do not add to 100 because of the people who were both sportspersons and wildlife watchers). In 2011 42% of wildlife‑related recreationists were sportspersons and 80% were wildlife watchers. Wildlife watchers have roughly maintained their proportion in the overall increase of wildlife‑related recreation, but sportspersons have increased their proportion.
“The number of participants is not the only measure of the relative impact of sportspersons and wildlife watchers. Examination of expenditures shows that while sportspersons are a smaller proportion of all recreationists, they spend almost twice as much in total as wildlife watchers. About two‑thirds of all wildlife‑related recreation expenditures have been for hunting and/or fishing in 2006 (63%) and 2011 (62%).
These preliminary Regional and State‑level estimates illustrate the continued importance and impact of fish and wildlife resources to each State, region, and the nation as a whole.”
Of course most of the readers here in North Carolina are interested in the figures on our home state. Overall participants in wildlife-associated recreation by North Carolina RESIDENTS both in state and out of state look like this,
From a total population of North Carolinians estimated to be 7,264,000, some 2,717,000 actively took part in wildlife-associated recreation (37% of the total population).
The number of sportspeople (male and female, hunters, salt and fresh water boaters, anglers, trappers, falconers, backpackers and campers) stand at 1,394,000 (19% of the total population).
The number of wildlife watchers (male and female, birders, wolf, whale, wild horse, reptile and dolphin, Etc.) stand at 2,124,000 (29% of the total population.)
It should be considered that some of the individual outdoorspeople here were part of two or more activities. For instance, some bird watchers might also be avid anglers or hunters as well.
The economic impacts of these outdoor enthusiasts amount to one of the most important pieces of data as far as our state government is concerned.
Expenditures for Wildlife-Related Recreation by state Where Spending Took Place in 2011 are listed below.
Total number of U.S. Dollars spent in wildlife-related activities in North Carolina. 3,294,924,000. Of this amount 1,612,019,000 was trip related, 1,420,977,000 equipment related and 261,928,000 to other expenditures.
Total number of U.S. Dollars spent on fishing and hunting in North Carolina. 2,635,467,000. Of this amount 1,244,710,000 was related to trips, 971,717,000 related to equipment and 148,837,00 on other expenses.
Total number of U.S. Dollars spent on wildlife watching in North Carolina. 928,661,000, Of this amount 367,309,000 was trip related, 440,260,000 on equipment and 113,097,000 on other expenses.
One of the two reports on wildlife-associated recreation is dedicated to an overall study of the United States as a whole while the second preliminary study concentrates the data on the individual states.
When the final versions of these reports come out this November they will probably have even further breakdowns on the economics of hunting and fishing. Of particular interest to us will be the comparison of dollars spent on fresh versus salt water fishing in our state.
The two preliminary reports are extensive and somewhat complicated and are available on the internet at
and also at