Hunting, fishing licenses rise during pandemic

While the coronavirus has shut down many indoor businesses, people have turned to the great outdoors as a way to get out of the house.

According to the Associated Press, sales of hunting and fishing licenses have spiked this year. The spike comes after a steady decline in the popularity of outdoor sports. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reported a decline in hunting since the early 1980s.

The ability to get into the woods without social distancing guidelines or mask mandates has led to the resurgence.

In Michigan, more than 545,000 hunters bought a license through Nov. 11, which is 10 percent more than at this same point last year. The number of people who received a license for the first time in at least five years jumped 80 percent to approximately 84,500.

It is not only Michigan seeing a rise in licenses. Maine has a state record for deer hunting permits, Wisconsin archery license sales rose 12 percent and gun license sales rose 9.5 percent, and Vermont and Nevada have seen double digit hunting increase, Fox News reports.

Sales of fishing licenses have risen as well. Louisiana saw a two-fold increase in fishing licenses after a stay-at-home order in April while new hunters and anglers are up 30 percent in Idaho. It appears licenses are up across the country, but a lot of states will not have final numbers until the end of the year.

All of this can almost certainly be directly contributed to the pandemic, Nick Buggia of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation told the AP.

In recent years, the younger generation has not had much interest in hunting or fishing due to their attention going elsewhere. But the pandemic has uprooted normal life and left many kids in front of their screens for far too long.

“Kids aren’t having sports practices or music lessons, and people working at home have more free time, so it’s been an opportunity for families to reconnect with the outdoors,” Buggia told the Associated Press. 

Wildlife commissioners around the country are hoping people stick to outdoor sports once the pandemic ends. Budgets for wildlife regulatory agencies depend heavily on the money generated by hunting and fishing license fees. Hunters are also depended upon to cull overgrown deer populations. 

Hunting and fishing are both great activities to do during this pandemic because both are outdoors and can be done a good distance apart from other people, Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter told the AP. 

“All of the things that hunting offers to people and the varied reasons people hunt all fit in with the pandemic,” he said.