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Hunting in Decline in the United States
by Katherine Shephard

Statistics recently released by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) show that the number of hunters in the United States decreased by 7 percent between 1996 and 2001. The statistics also show that the number of wildlife watchers increased by 5 percent during the five-year period.

The data were compiled by the United States Department of Commerce Census Bureau for its National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. To complete the survey, Bureau employees interviewed members of 76,664 households during a period of one year.

According to the USFWS, between 1985 and 2001, the number of hunters declined from 16.7 million to 13 million, or by 22 percent.

"These are long-term trends, not just a blip in the numbers, and we're delighted to see that more and more people are trading their guns for cameras," said Heidi Prescott, National Director of The Fund for Animals.

"Hunters now make up only 4.6 percent of the population, compared to the 31 percent who are wildlife watchers," Fund Executive Vice President Michael Markarian stated.

University of Wisconsin experts on hunting demographics T.A. Heberlein and E.J. Thomson predicted approximately 10 years ago that by 2050, sport hunting would cease to exist in the United States.

"This latest report shows that they were right on target," said Prescott. "The end of hunting is no more than a generation away."

    © 2002 Animal News Center, Inc.