The participation rates in the state have dropped around five percent in hunting and nearly 15 percent in angling since the 1980s. For the past decade, the number of sportsmen and women in Minnesota has remained stable, with approximately 1.1 million resident anglers and 550,000 resident hunters. While the number of sportsmen and women are not currently declining in the state, they are not increasing with the growth of the state population.
The largest declines in participation have been adults in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. To combat this worrying trend, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hosted a two-day summit on August 26-27, focusing on hunter and angler recruitment and retention. Participants included members of the outdoor industry, wildlife biologists, sportsmen’s groups, high school shooting and fishing leagues, and other local organizations who discussed successes and failures of current programs and possible future solutions.
Presentations covered a wide range of topics, including examinations of national trends, adult learn to hunt programs, recruiting and retaining women, and expanding recruiting efforts to new audiences. The summit also served as the debut for the DNR’s “R3 Toolkit – A guide to Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation” which highlights research findings, study results and other information developed by individuals and organizations involved in R3 efforts.
The toolkit provides background research on state and national trends in hunting in angling, lessons learned from designing programs, tips for organizations to design their own R3 programs, and examples of current R3 programs.
Hunters and anglers spend more than $3.17 billion per year in the state and support over 47,000 jobs. This spending generates $358 million in state and local taxes. If participation rate trends cannot be reversed, the economic boon sportsmen and women provide to the state, as well as the state’s proud outdoor heritage, could be in jeopardy.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?