Hunting losing popularity, according to statewide study

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesotans hunt and fish less than they used to partly because they are too busy, a new poll says.
By a 4-1 ratio, Minnesotans say they hunt less often now than they did when they were growing up, according to a Star Tribune/KMSP-TV poll conducted Oct. 2-7. More than half of parents polled said they were too busy to take their children hunting and fishing, and a third of the parents say their children are too busy.
In addition, 56 percent said there are fewer places to hunt today than when they were children. The poll, which surveyed 833 adults and was published Monday, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
“I grew up in Osakis, the last of 15 kids. My father hunted for food; we weren’t a wealthy family. Now I hunt when I can, and I try to take my son Jacob with me,” said John Rooney of Fridley. “But he’s involved in school and sports. We usually make it out once a year. But we won’t make it this year.”
An analysis of hunter participation in Minnesota based on license sales as a percentage of the state’s total population shows that participation, when considered for all age classes, remained fairly constant in the state from 1960 to 1997.
In 1960, as in 1997, about 18 percent of the state’s population hunted, based on license sales.
But Minnesota fishing-license sales from 1960 to 1997 show a significant decline. In 1960, when the state’s population was 3.4 million, 1.4 million fishing licenses were sold. In 1997, when Minnesota’s population was 4.6 million, the state Department of Natural Resources sold only 100,000 more fishing licenses, or 1.5 million.
The 1960 license-sales figure represents about 41 percent of the state’s population, the 1997 figure about 33 percent.
The DNR doesn’t track hunter participation by age. But fish and wildlife officials believe fewer young people are hunting and fishing.
“If we’re going to recruit more people to the shooting sports, that age group (sixth- through eighth-graders) is an important one to reach,” said Jodi DiCamillo of the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newtown, Conn. “Animal-rights activists are getting to urban kids more effectively than supporters of hunting are.”
Danielle Moore, education manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said her group is aggressive in sending its animal-protection message to kids.
“In addition to what we offer kids on our Web site, we give free educational materials to schools, from lesson plans to suggested reading lists,” Moore said. “We also have a nice ruler that we give to teachers — we’ve had hundreds of requests — that says ‘PETA Rules’ on one side. The other side has ‘rules’ about how kids can be kind to animals.”