BIRCH RUN, Mich. - Michigan’s fishing and hunting industry is estimated to pump more than $11 billion into the economy, which is credited with job growth and boosting other industries like tourism, according to a report released by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs last month.
The report also shows a decline in the number of fishing and hunting licenses sold to residents of the state.
From 2009 to 2014, the number of fishing licenses issued to Michigan residents dropped from 965,122 to 888,983, according to a compilation of data from Michigan Technological University in “Recreational Fishing in Michigan: Demographic Analysis.”
Michigan's terrain and abundance of water remains a prime location for people interested in the outdoors.
"This is some of the best fishing on the planet and people don't realize that,” said Andrew MacDonald, show manager of the Birch Run Hunting & Fishing Expo.
"You can go with five miles and come upon a body of water,” said Capt. Rich Haslett, a member of the Michigan Charter Boat Association, who was an exhibitor at the expo. “You name another state around here that has that. We have a lot of state trails here if you're into hunting."
Haslett said fewer youth and young adults are getting involved.
"I believe a lot of it is our younger people aren't interested in the outdoors. I think a lot of the reason that our industry is so good that it is--is a lot of out-of-state."
MacDonald said the three-day expo helps to spark interest and showcase industry businesses.
"We all want to see the (tv and phone) screens. So, it's important for physical activity and for people to get outside, particularly the youth. So, this is one venue to help try to bolster that.”
Anglers and hunters believe a lot is at stake.
"It won't only affect us running fishing charters out or your guides taking you out hunting. It's going to affect your motels. It's going to affect the restaurants (and) people going up north to visit,” said Haslett.
The Birch Run Hunting and & Fishing Expo had record attendance from Feb. 8 to Feb. 10 with more than 4,000 guests.