Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

National Survey Shows More Californians Engaging in Wildlife-Dependent Recreation

May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013
Contact: Pam Bierce (916) 414-6542 

National Survey Shows More Californians Engaging in Wildlife-Dependent Recreation
Hunting, Fishing and Observing Wildlife Provides Economic Benefits to State

Sacramento: Californian’s passion for wildlife and outdoor recreation continues to be a major boost to the economy, according to survey data released recently by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

More than 7.8 million California residents and non-residents age 16 and older hunted, fished or observed (birded, photographed or fed) wildlife in 2011, spending more than $7.5 billion on equipment, licenses, trips and other expenses. 

The California state report, part of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, measures public participation in hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other wildlife dependent recreation, as well as how much money is spent pursuing these activities. 

The Survey, done every five years by the Service and the U.S. Census Bureau, has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, State, and private organizations use the rigorously-compiled and detailed information to manage wildlife and wildlife-related recreation programs, and forecast trends in participation and economic impacts.  

The survey showed wildlife viewing is the number one outdoor activity in California. State residents spent nearly $4.5 billion on birding, outdoor photography and just plain watching wildlife. California hosted the most resident and nonresident wildlife-watchers, with 6.7 million participants. Almost 5.9 million people (88 percent), enjoyed their activities close to home, and 2.8 million people (41 percent of all wildlife watchers in the state) took trips of at least one mile from home to primarily observe wildlife watch.  

Fishing continues to be a popular activity both nationally and in California, with more than $2.3 billion generated by 1.7 million anglers in the state in 2011. Of this total, 94 percent (1.6 million) were residents while 6 percent (98,000) were nonresidents.  According to the report, each angler spent an average of 14 days on the water, up from 11 days in 2006. California ranked fifth in the nation for the number of in-state participants. 

More than 394,000 residents and nonresidents hunted in California in 2011, a 40 percent increase over 2006. Of that amount, 96 percent (377,000) were residents.  Hunters spent $964 million in hunting-related expenses, including trip-related expenses, equipment, and licenses, etc., an increase of 6 percent. Each hunter spent an average of 17 days afield. 

While fewer people hunt than fish or observe wildlife in California, hunters spent the most pursuing their sport. The average expenditure for a hunter was $2419 compared to $1,333 for angler and $533 for a wildlife watcher.  

Complete survey results are available at:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.