Hunting and fishing are declining in Michigan because millennials would rather enjoy wildlife than kill animals.
The decline is occurring as baby boomers, who popularized the sport decades ago, “age and drop away,” according to the Grand Haven Tribune. In 1998, Michigan had 785,000 deer hunters. Last year, the number of firearm licenses sold for the state’s deer hunting season dropped to 621,000, roughly a 21 percent decline.
According to a demographic analysis by Michigan Technological University, hunters who still participate in the “sport” tend to be white men in their late 40s to late 60s.
“Those hunters, those people in that generation, have participated in hunting at very high rates throughout their whole life, compared to other generations,” Richelle Winkler, an associate professor in Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences and author of the hunting demographics study, said to the Grand Haven Tribune. “And there are a lot of them.”
The analysis hypothesizes that by 2035, the previously reported high in 1998 will be reduced by more than half.
State park attendance records show that although younger generations choose not to hunt, they do enjoy the outdoors. Records show that the number of people visiting state parks and using trails is at an “all-time high.” Similarly, the popularity of activities like paddle-boarding, kayaking, and bird watching is “soaring.”
The declining popularity of hunting in Michigan is reflected elsewhere in America, too. Last August, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would stop selling “virtually all” hunting items from ten of its stores. Then in November, the chain announced it was considering “ridding hunting supplies” from all of its 732 locations across 47 states, CBS reported.
CEO Edward Stack said to CBS News that the company would “wait and see” how the ten store test period fares. He also confirmed that Dick’s is looking at its other stores to see where the hunting category “significantly underperforms,” to determine what is “a smart thing to do from a business standpoint.”
In the UK, views on hunting are also evolving. Nearly seven out of ten Brits believe game hunting birds should be illegal, according to new research.
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