In September, The Fund for Animals issued a press release claiming that this year’s National Hunting and Fishing Day was "the beginning of the end" for hunting and fishing in the United States. The Fund cited a number of statistics, but left out a rather crucial one.
The Fund noted that the number of people who hunt and the number of animals killed by hunters continues to decline,
. . . According to the U[nited] S[tates] F[ish and] W[ildlife] S[ervice], in 1985 there were 16.7 million hunters in the U.S, while in 2001 there were only 13 million, a decline of 22% over fifteen years. Since 1989, the number of animals killed every year by hunters has fallen by 42 percent. This led Heidi Prescott, national director of The Fund for Animals, to comment that, "These are long-term trends, not just a blip in the numbers, and we’re delighted to see that more and more people are trading their guns for cameras."
The USFWS results showed the largest declines in "small game" (22%) and "other animal" hunting (31%). According to Norm Phelps, a program coordinator at The Fund and author of the report Body Count: The Death Toll in America’s War on Wildlife, "The decline is taking place primarily among hunters of small game. Since they kill many more animals than big game hunters, we can expect the total number of hunting victims to decline as well."
In the press release, The Fund president Michael Markarian engages in a little wishful thinking that the Fish and Wildlife Service will stop catering to hunters and fisherman,
Hunters now make up only 4.6% of the population, compared to the 31% who are wildlife watchers. It’s time for the Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife watchers. It’s time for the Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies to start paying attention to their own numbers and stop catering to a tiny special interest group. Wildlife belongs to everyone, not just the few people who hunt.
But while the numbers of hunters continues to decline — in large part due to the lack of interest in urban dwellers like myself whose idea of hunting is trying to make it safely out of the local supermarket on a Saturday afternoon — there does not appear to be any concomitant desire among non-hunters to restrict hunting.
A May 2003 Gallup poll, for example, found 76 percent of respondents opposed to a ban on hunting. Even among those who told Gallup that they supported animals having the "same rights" as human beings, fully 55 percent opposed a total ban on hunting.
The Fund for Animals Celebrates National Hunting and Fishing Day as the Beginning of the End. Press Release, Fund for Animals, September 25, 2003.
Public Lukewarm on Animal Rights. David W. Moore, Gallup Poll Organization, May 21, 2003.