2022 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Watching Shows Economic Contribution of $395 Billion to US Economy

October 12, 2023

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is pleased to see the final report on the 2022 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The survey show that  hunting and fishing contributed $145 billion to the US economy while wildlife watching contributed another $250 billion, 39 million people (15% of the U.S. population 16 years and older) participated in recreational fishing, 14 million people (5.5% of the U.S. population 16 years and older) participated in hunting, 148+ million people participated in wildlife watching, 47+ million people participated in target shooting, and 19+ million people participated in archery.

“The National Survey is conducted every five years and provides definitive data on participation and spending on fishing, hunting, target shooting, and wildlife associated recreation,” said Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Outdoor recreation is one of our nation’s largest economic engines. It touches all American’s, from small rural towns to those living in bustling cities and continues to be a powerful force in our nation’s economy.”

The survey was implemented as a partnership between the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, a highly respected research and survey company.

In response to dramatic increases in the cost of the survey and heavy respondent burden, the 2022 National Survey was redesigned to 1) reduce respondent burden, 2) increase the accuracy, and 3) create a financially sustainable model for future surveys. While the 2022 results are not directly comparable to previous surveys due to the new methodologies used, they do point to continued strong participation by Americans in fishing, hunting and wildlife associated recreation.

“We asked for dramatic changes to the survey methodology to ensure it will remain affordable and viable.” said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Chair of AFWA’s National Survey Technical Workgroup. “NORC delivered on those changes and the 2022 survey represents a new model that will work for years to come.”


The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.