Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Nebraska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Nebraska Project

Comprehensive evaluation of the Nebraska outdoor enthusiast

January 2016 - July 2022


Participating Agencies

  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Fishing and hunting license sales and taxes on fishing and hunting equipment are vital sources of funding for wildlife management agencies, and in many cases, management objectives are met under the stewardship of sportspersons. The dependence on hunters and anglers by management agencies makes the North American Model of Conservation unique, but vulnerable to declining participation in outdoor recreation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supports the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation Survey in a nationwide effort to understand the sporting public. Conducted every five years, the National Survey identifies generalizations concerning patterns of outdoor enthusiast participation in the USA. Although useful for setting broad policy, the spatial and temporal scales of this National Survey limit the capacity for state fish and wildlife agencies to affect local participation within their states. To overcome these limitations, many state agencies conduct surveys of individual license holders. However, state surveys are often highly directed, limiting their applicability across user groups and state boundaries.

Given the challenges of both national and state surveys, there is a need to bridge the information gap and understand sportspersons at spatial and temporal scales that may more directly assist in creating hunting and angling opportunities. We are analyzing a comprehensive database on license holders in Nebraska with the goal of helping inform and direct wildlife and fisheries management, as well as recruitment and retention efforts within the state. To date, we have documented that movement of sportspersons across activity groups (hunting only, fishing only, a combination of hunting and fishing, and inactive), inferred from license purchases, is limited and varies little based on initial group participation.

In addition, we developed a customizable, open-source, web-based application—huntfishapp—that allows users to easily interact with a license database. The huntfishapp serves as an informational resource, provides a framework for sharing information on license sales across an agency, and allows agencies and non-governmental organizations to become more knowledgeable of their customer base.