With more free time on their hands, a growing interest in securing their own food, coupled with the needs for physical outlets and mental relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Californians turned to fishing and hunting last year.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued nearly two million sport fishing licenses in 2020, an 11 percent increase from 2019. Of those, 1,201,237 were annual resident sport fishing licenses, a 19 percent increase over 2019. Not since 2008 has CDFW issued as many sport fishing licenses as it did last year.
California hunter numbers also spiked. CDFW issued nearly 300,000 California hunting licenses in 2020, a nine percent increase from the previous year. Of those, 244,040 were annual resident hunting licenses – an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
About 16 percent of the annual resident hunting licenses issued last year – 43,450 – went to first-time license holders. Another 12 percent of those hunting licenses – 31,835 – went to reactivated hunters, meaning residents who didn’t purchase a California hunting license in 2019, but held one in a prior year.
“We recognize it’s important to provide an outlet for recreation, mental and physical health during these difficult times, and we’ve worked hard as a department to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open, available and safe as much as possible,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’re especially excited to welcome so many new hunters and new anglers of all ages and all backgrounds. A California fishing or hunting license is a passport to outdoor adventure and a gateway to healthy living, environmental stewardship, good times and lifetime learning.”
Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in surveys for scientific