People flock to Maine to hunt and fish during the pandemic

Although final numbers have yet to be calculated, it appears the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to spur people to pursue outdoor activities in Maine.

Preliminary data shows that more people fished, hunted and drove snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles in 2021, based on information provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Non-residents spearheaded the increase in license sales. There was a 25% boom in fishing licenses and a 10% gain in hunting licenses within this group.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, sales of fishing and hunting licenses have each increased by almost 9%, and registrations of ATVs (14%) and boats (5%) have also increased while people are looking for safe and fun outdoor activities that minimize risk. of being exposed to COVID-19.

“The increase in license sales and registrations reflects people’s passion for the outdoors in Maine and shows how many people have flocked to the outdoors during the pandemic,” said DIF&W Commissioner Judy Camuso. “Time spent outdoors is restorative, healthy and fulfilling.”

DIF&W spokesperson Mark Latti noted that data on fishing and hunting licenses is incomplete and does not include lifetime and small game licenses and multi-day fishing licenses. Also, information from cities that do not use online reporting may not be included in boat and ATV registration numbers.

Here is an overview of fishing and hunting licenses, as well as boating and ATV registrations:


— Sales of fishing licenses, which fell in 2020 compared to 2019, saw a nice increase last year. The 281,596 purchased in 2021 total 13% more than the previous year (248,951).

— Non-resident licenses accounted for much of the growth, increasing 25% from 73,817 to 92,250.

— There was a modest 3% increase in resident fishing licenses, from 175,134 to 189,346.

— In 2020, 4% fewer fishing licenses were sold compared to the previous year.


– Nonresidents gave the biggest boost to hunting license sales in 2021 in the state. They purchased 30,262 licenses, 10% more than the 2020 total of 27,523.

— Over the past two years, the increase in non-resident hunting licenses exceeded 13%, an increase of 12,826.

— Overall, hunting license sales increased by only 1.4%, from 158,300 in 2020 to 160,549 a year ago.

– Sales of resident hunting licenses fell by less than 1% in 2021, with 500 fewer licenses. This contrasts with 2020, when 8% more Mainers bought one.

– More hunters, a thriving deer population in many parts of the state, and a record number of permits for any deer led to a harvest of 38,920 animals, the highest number of deer taken since 1968.

– Maine’s bear harvest numbers were robust (about 3,768) despite an abundance of natural food, while moose hunters had a tougher time, harvesting 2,353 animals during the traditional season, a rate of 68% success rate which was the third lowest in hunting history. .


– Boat registrations, which fell 4% in 2020 to 116,450, jumped at least 8.6% to 126,497 in 2021. The two-year increase is almost 5%.

— Boating numbers do not include unpowered watercraft such as canoes and kayaks, which are popular on Maine waters but do not require registration.


— Residents continued to use all-terrain vehicles with increasing frequency. With more than 77,093 registrants last year, registrations were up 6% from 2020 and 14% from 2019 totals.

Camuso said DIF&W has tried to make it easier for Mainers to find information about many of the state’s outdoor recreation opportunities. This includes regular fishing reports, live instruction broadcasts on YouTube and other online sessions.

“Over the past three years, we’ve been focused on providing people with information and making it easier to help new and experienced people get out there,” Camuso said.

“People are responding in greater numbers and enjoying Maine outdoors safely and responsibly,” she said.

About Patricia Kilgore

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