Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation in Washington


Published: January 18, 2024

Pages: 31

Author(s): Braeden Van Deynze, PhD

Executive Summary

Millions of residents and visitors from other states enjoy Washington’s fish and wildlife through participation in wildlife-related recreation. Such recreational activity supports a robust recreation economy, generating revenue for businesses and taxes to support the services provided by WDFW and other public agencies. For nearly seven decades, the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation has measured wildlife-related recreational activity, providing a snapshot of who participates and what they spend to do so. This report describes the results of the 2022 Survey for Washington.

In 2022, 4.4 million Washington residents aged 16 years or older participated in at least one wildlife-related recreation activity in 2022 - 72% of the state’s population - and 2.5 million took trips away from their homes to do so. Between residents and non-residents, the Survey found that 1.2 million people fished, 292,000 people hunted, and 6.2 million people watched wildlife, including 4 million who took trips farther than a mile from their homes to do so.

These anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers spent over $9 billion on equipment and trip-related expenses, spending associated with an estimated $630 million in taxes contributing to the State General Fund. Expenditures associated with wildlife-related recreation exceeded consumer expenditures by Washington residents on other major product categories in 2022, including telecommunication services, new motor vehicles, and accommodations (e.g., hotels). Tax revenues associated with this spending exceeded general fund contributions to fish and wildlife management four-fold.

The Washingtonians who participated in wildlife-related recreation were as diverse as the population of the state overall. Many participants took part in more than one activity; fishers and hunters were far more likely to participate in wildlife watching than those who do not participate in these activities. The percentage of Washington residents aged 16 years or older who participated in fishing in 2022 was 17%, while the participation rates for hunting, away-from-home wildlife watching, and around-the-home wildlife watching were 4%, 35%, and 71% respectively. Participation rates exceeded national averages in all activities apart from hunting, though the hunting participation rate among women was double the national rate.

While the Survey helps us understand the scale and scope of wildlife-related recreation, more research is needed to fully understand the drivers of recreational behavior, barriers to participation, and other ways that Washingtonians interact with and value wildlife. The results delivered in this report will support the implementation of the Washington Hunting and Angling Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) Plan and the 10-Year Recreation Strategy for WDFW-Managed Lands, as well as the agency’s 25-Year Strategic Plan. These findings emphasize just many ways Washington residents opt to enjoy the outdoors and wildlife-related recreation. With something for everyone, Washington’s diverse wildlife-related recreation opportunities offer a place for all in fish and wildlife conservation.

Suggested citation

Van Deynze, B. 2024. Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation in Washington: Participation and Expenditures in 2022. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, Washington.