While the number of Maine anglers has increased in recent years, the number of hunters continues to decline. Let’s start with hunters.
I looked at data from 2001 to 2017. Hunting numbers for residents was highest in 2003, at 166,675. In 2017, that total was just 131,404.
The numbers are beefed up a bit by lifetime license holders which total 24,626 for fishing, 2,950 for hunting, and 54,051 who have a combination hunting and fishing lifetime license.
Fishing license sales for residents in this time period peaked in 2016, at 189,896, and totaled 180,498 in 2017.
Nonresident fishing licenses peaked in 2016 at 84,673, and were 84,308 in 2017.
Nonresident hunters plunged from 40,558 in 2001 to 26,860 in 2017.
I think our freshwater fishing economy can continue to grow, if we market that opportunity effectively (there are lots of great places to fish in North America), I fear that hunting in Maine will continue to decline, for a variety of reasons.