by Max Brantley
I've been meaning to mention an interesting edit in a wire story the Democrat-Gazette picked up today about the decline nationwide in hunting and fishing. This is a continuation of a long trend and it reflects the urbanization of the country.
You can copy and paste to read the story.
It would appear a D-G editor inserted this language:
Arkansas hunters and anglers are bucking the national trend, listed in the survey as having one of the highest participation rates for hunting at 14 percent of the population and for fishing at 21 percent for 2006 for those age 16 and older.
Arkansas, in fact, DID NOT buck the national trend. While a greater percentage of people hunt and fish here than in more urban states, we also have experienced a sharp decline in hunting and fishing and that's one of the reasons the dedicated sales tax here was so important to support Game and Fish programs, which traditionally depended on license fees.
See for yourself. Here's the survey from which the story was drawn: The survey shows a precipitous drop in fishing and hunting over the span from 1996 to 2006.
For Arkansas residents 16 and over who either hunted or fished: From 894,000 in 1996 to 550,000 in 2006.
For the same group that just fished: From 494,000 to 461,000.
For the same group that just hunted: From 329,000 to 308,000.
(NOTE: The numbers have been revised from the original post. I crossed up charts that measured hunting and fishing n the state with the number of state residents who hunt or fish.)
Don't know why the D-G wants to go all jingoistic on this. Hunting and fishing are still big business. They are still much beloved by many. But the numbers don't lie. Far more people don't hunt or fish than do. Far MORE people, survey says, engage in wildlife watching than hunting or fishing (40 percent of the population.)
Thus, again, my plea that the state Game and Fish Commission do a more aggressive job of recognizing the trend. Instead of focusing its almost undivided attention on the hooks and bullets crowd, and trying to convert others to the club, it should think more about bird watching, hiking, etc.
And D-G, get with it on the editing. (Us, too.)