Hunting License Sales Up in 2009
3.6% Increase Largest Since 1974NSSF, Bear Hunting Magazine
The number of paid hunting license holders in the United States jumped 3.6 percent in 2009, one of the most encouraging signs for hunting in recent years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week reported a total of 14,974,534 paid license holders for 2009, the largest figure since 2002 and an increase of 526,494 over 2008. The 3.6 percent rise in paid license holders represents the largest year-over-year increase since 1974. (A "paid license holder" is one individual regardless of the number of licenses purchased.)
The NSSF cites several reasons for the increase, ranging from programs launched by many state wildlife agencies over the last decade to increase hunting participation to a difficult economy that motivated hunters to fill their freezers with game rather than store-bought meat. Also, hunters who were among the unemployed or had their work hours reduced used some of their free time to go hunting.
Coordinated efforts of state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations and the firearms industry appear to have halted a decades-long decline in hunting license sales, which since 2005 have held at the 14.5-million level until the jump in 2009.
Another positive sign for hunting is that contrary to claims of a wholesale decline in hunting participation, paid license holders have increased in 24 states in the five-year period from 2005 to 2009.
The NSSF points out that the actual number of hunters who go afield in any given year is greater than the total of paid hunting license holders in that year. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service figures do not account for certain state exemptions for purchasing a hunting license. Many states allow landowners and active military to hunt without purchasing a license; also, lifetime license holders and youth hunters who do not fall within the required license purchasing age are not included in the figures.