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Most Adults Join in Wildlife Activities

March 30, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ More than three-fourths of adult Americans participate in some form of wildlife-related recreation, a National Fish and Wildlife Service study found.

″These preliminary numbers support what we have suspected - that more Americans than ever before are engaging in wildlife-related activities,″ said service Director Fred Dunkle.

″People are photographing wildlife, whale watching, birdwatching, canoeing, hiking and biking in unprecedended numbers,″ added Joyce M. Kelly, president of the private Defenders of Wildlife.

More than 141 million Americans aged 16 and over are engaged in feeding wildlife, taking their pictures or hunting and fishing for them, the new study found.

That amounts to 78 percent of all Americans in that age group, said the report, based on a Census Bureau survey of the activities of 100,000 households in 1985. Spending on wildlife-related activities totaled $55 billion.

Overall participation is up from about 99 million people, who spent $41 billion, five years earlier, according to the service, which conducts such surveys every five years.

The new report found 109 million people aged 16 and over engage in some ″non-consumptive″ wildlife related activity such as feeding animals, photography and birdwatching.

In addition, the report found more than 46.6 million fishermen and women and 16.7 million hunters across the nation.

The figures add up to more than the overall total of 141 million because some people participate in more than one activity.

Because people who enjoy such activities tend to be involved in wildlife conservation, the large number of participants is a good sign for the future of wildlife resources, Dunkle said in a statement.

Ms. Kelly called for more government attention to this group.

″The interests of this constituency naturally coincide with effective programs for all wildlife which look far beyond traditional game management practices,″ she added.

Among the 109.7 million participants other than hunters and anglers, there were 82.5 million who fed wild birds and 18.1 million wildlife photographers. Nearly 30 million took trips for the specific purpose of watching wildlife.

These folks spent $14 billion on binoculars, bird feeders, cameras, transportation and other costs associated with these activities.

Anglers accounted for 46.6 million people, one in four adults. Of them, 40.2 million fished in freshwater and 14.1 million in salt water.

They spent $28.2 billion, an average just over $600 each, and spent an average of 21 days each in the activity.

Hunters also spent just over $600 apiece on their sport, averaging 20 days afield each. Some 12.5 million hunted big game, 10.8 million small game and 5 million were after migratory birds.

On average, most sportsmen were male between the ages of 18 and 44 with a high school education or more and an income of more than $25,000. Anglers were more likely to be residents of urban areas and hunters tended to live in the country.

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