Status of Hunter Recruitment and Retention in the United States
Participation indicators of hunter recruitment and retention in the United States (U.S.) point to decreasing trends, although some regions of the country are experiencing slight increases in hunter-education graduates and license buyers. If the overall declining trends persist, they could have serious implications for continuation of some wildlife agency programs that depend on hunters for political, financial, or harvest-related support. Superficially, these trends also might be interpreted to indicate lessening need for programs aimed at providing hunting recreation or maintaining cultural benefits relating to hunting. Consequently, it is important to understand whether participation indicators tell the whole story regarding hunter recruitment and retention. Social-psychological indicators also need to be taken into account and definitions of recruitment and retention need to be considered carefully. Integrating social-psychological and participation indicators suggests that recruitment and retention may be decreasing, but at a rate slower than participation indicators alone would depict. More emphasis on measuring social-psychological indicators could have several important benefits that lead to more positive implications for wildlife agency programs.