Using up to 38 (1974 - 2012) years of data from the annual Illinois Hunter Harvest Survey and Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Survey conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey, we investigated trends in hunter numbers, harvest, and hunter effort (days/hunter) and success (harvest/day/hunter). Hunter numbers decreased across all small game species (e.g. rabbits, squirrels). Whereas average number of rabbits harvested per hunter, hunter effort and success remained stable for almost 40 years, estimated number of rabbit hunters decreased almost 90%, from 304,254 hunters in 1976 to 33,093 in 2012. Waterfowl hunters experienced a smaller decrease in participation from 63,652 hunters in 1981 to 50,740 in 2012. During this period average duck hunter effort did not changed substantially though success increased in conjunction with increasing duck populations. Number of goose hunters increased from 23,610 to 34,034 during the same period and was accompanied by doubling of goose hunter effort though success remained stable. Like geese, hunting for more popular species, such as deer, turkey, and coyote increased in both hunter participation and effort over the last 30 years. Number of deer hunters and days afield more than doubled between 1982 and 2012. Increased participation in hunting big game species coupled with decreased interest toward small game may suggest a growing displacement of hunters toward game with higher media profile. Additionally, the slight decline in number of waterfowl hunters and increase in geese hunters indicates a change in waterfowl hunters’ behavior toward pursuing both geese and ducks.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - 2014|