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February 14. 2013 10:30PM

Survey says NH residents afield more


Wes Foote of Manchester ties a new fly while trout fishing on Archery Pond at Bear Brook State Park in 2011. The number of state residents involved in hunting and fishing has grown almost 20 percent in the five years since the last survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (FILE/THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD - The number of New Hampshire residents involved in hunting and fishing has grown almost 20 percent in the five years since the last survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but visits by out-of-state residents for hunting and fishing have declined.

The service's recently released National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation estimated that 168,000 New Hampshire residents 16 years or older could be classified as sportspersons, meaning they actively hunt or fish in this state or elsewhere, based on data collected in 2011.

That compares to 141,000 New Hampshire sportspersons listed in the 2006 report, an increase of 19.1 percent. The state's population hasn't changed much in that time, so the percentage of sportspersons in the population has gone from 14 to 16 percent in the five-year period.

New Hampshire now ranks in the middle of the 50 states when it comes to the number of residents active in hunting, fishing or trapping, with Alaska at 45 percent and California at 7 percent. In the continental states, Wyoming and Minnesota top the chart at 34 percent.

While the number of resident sportspersons is rising, the number of out-of-state visitors for hunting and fishing in the state declined from 258,000 in 2006 to 247,000 in 2011.

The 2011 figure for all sportspersons translates into more than $270 million in direct spending, with a ripple effect of $430 million, supporting 4,537 jobs in the state, according to analysis of the data released Feb. 8 by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

"Many people may not fully comprehend how important hunting and fishing are to the fabric of this country. Yet nationally there are more people who hunt or fish than go bowling, and their spending would land them at number 24 on the Fortune 500 list," said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, a national lobbying group. "Sportsmen and women spent $271 million on hunting and fishing in New Hampshire in 2011 - more than the receipts for all agricultural commodities in the state that year."

Many of the 168,000 sportspersons in the state are also counted among the 388,000 state residents characterized as "wildlife watching" participants in the Fish and Wildlife Service study. Crane said the results affirm the notion that sportspersons are leaders in conserving fish and wildlife and their habitats.

"When you combine license and stamp fees, motorboat fuels, excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and membership contributions to conservation organizations, hunters and anglers nationally directed $3 billion towards on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts in 2011," he said. "And that doesn't include their own habitat acquisition and restoration work for lands owned or leased for the purpose of hunting and fishing."


dsolomon@unionleader.com



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