A new survey shows that hunting and fishing are on the decline in Utah and that has the Division of Wildlife Resources concerned. The division says the problem isn’t a lack of experienced hunters; there just aren’t as many newcomers. Sales have steadily declined in the last two decades and the division says a different kind of gaming is a big part of the reason. College students playing video games is nothing new, but who knew it could have an impact on the ecosystem?
“When playing the X-box, I can just flip on the TV and turn on the X-box and there you go,” said former hunter Brett Colvin. “You’re ready to go. Hunting…it just takes too much time.”
Figures from the US census show hunting and fishing participation in Utah is down to 39 percent. That’s still above the national average, but is far less than 65 percent, which was the state’s figure in 1991.
“License sales…it’s not just about funding the division. This is about habitat improvement,” said Scott Root, the Conservation Manager at the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Lynn Jorgensen has worked in outdoor sports retail for 25 years. His store dropped hunting merchandise altogether recently and he says that hunting and fishing doesn’t connect with the young crowd the way it used to.
“It seemed like when some of the shows [like] “A River Runs Through It” came out, everybody wanted to fly fish. Everybody wanted to be Robert Redford,” said Jorgensen.
The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources has classes and workshops aimed at getting kids back outdoors, but video games aren’t the only obstacle. Finances are a concern too.
“A lot of people feel like it’s too expensive. Gas is more expensive,” said Root. “There’s a lot of things out there, but we want to change that and get people in the outdoors.”
The division said the number of participating hunters is critical to maintaining balance in the ecosystem and we might start to see problems if license sales don’t improve. The DNR said it doesn’t worry as much about population, but it does worry about disease if animals go unchecked.