The numbers of hunters in the U.S. have been declining.
Ian Urbina reports on state efforts to encourage young people to take it up (including hunters education, apprenticeship programs, lower minimum age requirements, agency sponsored hunting trips for women, children under 15, and the disabled, hunting classes for single mothers, youth hunting weekends): To Revive Hunting, States Turn to the Classroom (New York Times, March 8).
Fewer people are hunting:
Hunting has seen its ranks fall nationally to 12.5 million in 2006 from a peak of 19.1 million in 1975, according to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service....
There are various explanations:
Wildlife officials and environmental researchers offer different explanations for the decline in hunting, including rural depopulation, higher gas prices and the increased leasing of land by small exclusive clubs or the posting of “No Hunting” signs by private land owners.
Others cite the prevalence of single-parent homes, where the father is not present to pass down the tradition, and the growing popularity of indoor activities that offer immediate gratification, like the Internet, video games and movies.
Even when young people do hunt, they do it wrong:
“Hunting takes time, effort and patience,” said Capt. Louis DellaMea of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. Shaking his head, he said that among the few young people who do hunt, the habit is to ride an all-terrain vehicle to a tree platform, pour out a bag of corn and sit waiting for the prey to show up.
“In my day, you went looking for the animal — that was the whole point,” he said, adding that what makes hunting fulfilling is the exercise involved, discovering hidden trails and seeing sunrises, bobcats and bears while conducting the search. “The actual killing, that’s secondary.”
But people are are doing other things outdoors:
Andrew Page agrees about the draw of nature, but as the director of hunting affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, he sees the drop in hunting as heartening, partly because it has come with a simultaneous rise in other types of outdoor activity. The number of birdwatchers, wildlife photographers and other wildlife watchers grew to 71 million in 2006, up from 62.8 million in 1996, according to surveys conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Because there are fewer hunters:
In West Virginia, the Department of Natural Resources has lost at least $1.5 million in revenue from hunting and fishing licenses, which affects the department’s ability to conduct conservation work, state officials said.
Hunting is the largest factor in controlling the deer population, and without enough hunters, the deer population can grow and has contributed to an increase in road accidents, said Steve Brown, the state’s fish and wildlife planner. West Virginia has the highest rate of vehicular accidents caused by deer, according to State Farm Insurance. In 2006, the state Division of Highways reported 15,918 deer were killed in motor vehicle collisions.
Here are some other posts about the changing ways we interact with nature: Nature recreation .