Hunting’s popularity has been waning across the country as suburbs consume the countryside, hunters age out of the sport and kids plug into texting and Facebook instead of bows and rifles.
Fewer hunters mean less revenue for state conservation agencies. Now officials nationwide are scrambling to preserve hunting traditions — and the billions of dollars they generate — before they fade away for good.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 33 states saw declines in hunting license sales over the last two decades. The sharpest drop was in Massachusetts, which has seen a 50 percent falloff in hunting license sales during that time. Nationwide, the wildlife service estimates that overall hunting license sales fell about 8.5 percent nationwide between 1990 and 2009.