Despite a national downward trend in hunting and fishing license sales over the past ten years, Maine is bucking the trend, with hunting licenses stable, and fishing licenses increasing over that same ten-year span.
"Maine is known as a destination for hunters and anglers, and even though fewer licenses are being sold nationwide, more people are choosing Maine as a place to hunt or fish," said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
In 1996, there were there were 267,158 licensed anglers in Maine. In 2006, that number grew to 279,262, an increase of nearly 5%. In 1996, Maine had 210,183 licensed hunters, and in 2006, that number was 209,165, a decrease of one half of one percent. Over that time, the sale of hunting and fishing licenses across the nation dropped 15%.
"Maine's natural resources are unmatched in the northeast and Atlantic states. We have millions of acres of unposted huntable land, and hundreds of wild brook trout ponds. No other state is even close," said Martin.
Maine has also worked to not only attract more hunters and anglers to the state, but also to create new hunters and anglers through programs run by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The Department oversees a Hooked on Fishing Program, a National Archery In The Schools Program, a Becoming An Outdoorswomen Program, and Youth Field Days. These programs introduce thousands of people to Maine's traditional sports of hunting and fishing.
"These programs have a statewide reach, and over that ten year period, have introduced thousands of people to hunting and fishing and other outdoor sports," said Martin.
Maine also has several days set aside for young hunters. There are youth waterfowl days, youth deer hunting day and youth turkey hunting day. The state also offers free fishing weekends in the summer and winter. There also are state funded scholarships to conservation camp that are funded through an auction of moose hunting permits.
"Certainly, we are concerned with the national downward trend of sporting licenses," said Martin, "but we are pleased to see that the efforts of this department seem to be offsetting a similar downward trend in Maine."