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Scott M

Some Good News for MN Sportsmen

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Scott M

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Survey Shows MN tops in youth hunters and anglers.

By Dennis Anderson and Doug Smith, Star Tribune.

More kids hunt or fish in Minnesota than in any other state, according to a federal study released Wednesday.

A whopping 74 percent of Minnesota kids age 6 to 15 participate in some type of wildlife-related recreation and 58 percent hunt or fish, reported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

At a time when state wildlife officials are concerned about recruiting new hunters and anglers, the survey indicates tens of thousands of Minnesota kids are being introduced to the outdoors.

Hunting and fishing advocates have long said they need to hook kids early on the outdoors, and the survey bears that out. Nationally, 28 percent of first-time anglers were age 6 to 8, by far the highest percentage of newcomers. Likewise, youths under 15 make up the bulk of first-time hunters.

"It's great to see numbers that high," said C.B. Bylander, Department of Natural Resources fish and wildlife division outreach chief.

Bylander credited MinnAqua, a DNR fishing education program, and youth participation efforts by private conservation groups for exposing kids to hunting and fishing.

"The high participation of youth here likely has to do primarily with fishing, and with the easy access we have in Minnesota to water," Bylander said. "Also, youth participation rates reflect overall hunting and fishing participation here, and Minnesota is tied with Alaska for the highest rate of fishing participation in the nation, and among the top states in hunting."

But relatively few people over age 25 take up hunting or fishing and some worry about keeping participation high as the young hunters and anglers age.

"The question is, how do we keep kids who are exposed to hunting and fishing at a young age continuing in the sports as they get older?" said Ryan Bronson, conservation manager for Federal Cartridge Co. in Anoka.

Bronson was formerly the DNR's hunting and fishing recruitment coordinator.

"The upside in seeing these high participation rates is that these kids have at least tried these activities," Bronson said. "Now we need to tap into that exposure. Because in many cases hunters and anglers don't start supporting conservation through license purchases until they're 16, and we need their support."

Hunters and anglers pay the bulk of fish and wildlife management costs through license fees and taxes.

More than 87 million Americans age 16 and older participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2006, including 30 million anglers and 12.5 million hunters, according to the survey. Angler numbers fell 12 percent from 2001, while the hunting population was essentially flat.

Actual numbers likely are much higher, the Fish and Wildlife Service said, because some people don't participate every year.

In Minnesota, the number of anglers age 16 and older dropped from 1.6 million to 1.4 million and number of hunters age 16 and older dropped from 597,000 to 541,000. The federal numbers don't include hunters and anglers under 16.

The state's estimates are higher and show a smaller drop.

Hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $122.3 billion, representing about 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the survey. In Minnesota, fishing expenditures were estimated at $2.7 billion, and hunting at a half-billion dollars.

The federal survey, completed every five years, also said:

• One of every eight U.S. residents fishes; 75 percent are men, 25 percent women.

• Ninety-two percent of anglers are white, 5 percent are black and 1 percent are Asian.

•Big game hunting is most popular, with 10.7 million hunters. Small game attracted 4.8 million hunters and there were 2.3 million migratory bird hunters.

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MN is pouring more money into youth recruitment and retention programming in hunting and fishing and I think its paying off. There's no reason for MN to not be a leader with the state's natural resources and rich outdoor heritage.

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Powerstroke

Thanks for putting this up dachise. I saw this in today's paper and I couldn't have been more proud. I think we have great programs in MN and it really comes down to the parents and the volunteers that help keep kids engaged in outdoor activities.

I hope people continue to expose children to the great outdoors in lots of different ways. The other point in here was about people who are over 25 not picking it up.

Take friend with you sometime. My friend's dad didn't start hunting until his 40's but he hunts with us now because he sees us enjoying it.

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