Survey says: Midwesterners value their outdoor recreation

Midwest sportsmen and women led the country in pursuing their favorite activities in 2006, according to one of the nation's most important surveys of outdoor recreation.

Midwest sportsmen and women led the country in pursuing their favorite activities in 2006, according to one of the nation's most important surveys of outdoor recreation.

According to preliminary state data from the new 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, in western North Central states, a section of the country that includes Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, a nation-leading 25 percent of residents 16 or older went fishing or hunting or watched wildlife in 2006.

In the eastern North Central part of the country - which includes Great Lakes states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin - 17 percent of residents 16 or older hunted, fished or watched wildlife last year.

Sportsmen and women and wildlife watchers in these two areas of the country spent more than $25 billion on these pursuits.

"The National Survey is an important tool that measures in economic and participatory terms the value that wildlife has in Americans' hearts and to the nation's economy. Wildlife related recreation rejuvenates our spirit, connects us with nature and gets us outside pursuing healthy activities," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall.


Individual state highlights from the preliminary data:

Most Participants In-State

(age 16 or older):


Texas - 1,115,000

Pennsylvania - 1,027,000

Michigan - 756,000

Wisconsin - 698,000


Missouri - 613,000


Florida - 2,755,000

Texas - 2,500,000

California - 1,740,000

Minnesota - 1,435,000

Michigan - 1,408,000

Highest Participation Rates


(age 16 or older):


Montana - 19 percent

North Dakota - 17 percent

South Dakota, Wisconsin - 15 percent

Arkansas, Maine, West Virginia - 14 percent

Minnesota, Missouri, Wyoming - 13 percent



Alaska, Minnesota - 28 percent

Montana, Wyoming - 24 percent

Wisconsin - 23 percent

Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia - 21 percent

Idaho - 20 percent

Wildlife Watching:

Maine - 57 percent

Montana, Vermont - 55 percent


Iowa, Minnesota, Wyoming - 48 percent

New Hampshire - 46 percent

Missouri - 45 percent

In 2006, more than 87 million Americans, or 38 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older hunted, fished or watched wildlife. They spent $120 billion that year pursuing those activities.

Further broken down by category, 30 million people, or 13 percent, fished and spent a total of $41 billion on their activities, 12.5 million people, or 5 percent, hunted and spent a total of $23 billion, and 71 million people, or 31 percent, observed wildlife, spending a total of $45 billion.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation has been conducted every five years since 1955 and is one of the nation's most important wildlife recreation databases. It is considered to be the definitive source of information concerning participation and expenditures associated with hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife-related recreation nationwide.

The survey is conducted at the request of state fish and wildlife agencies and is funded by grants from the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Acts' Multistate Conservation Grant Program. A wide range of individuals and groups depend on the survey to analyze participation rates, economic impacts of expenditures, demographic characteristics, and trends in participation and activities.

It is important to note that the National Survey counts only participants who actually went hunting, fishing or observed wildlife in 2006 and does not represent the total number of anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers in the U.S. Many people who consider themselves hunters, anglers or wildlife watchers do not participate every year. For example, examination of survey data shows that over the five year period from 2002 to 2006, a cumulative total of 44.4 million people fished and 18.6 million hunted.


This 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview report, as well as previous surveys and reports, can be found at . The Service expects to publish the final national report in November 2007.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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