WEST MICHIGAN-Hunting is big game in Michigan, but not as big as it once was. Conservations say that decline could have a serious impact beyond the woods, but it's something they say they knew was coming.
As baby boomers are getting to an age where they stop going out, less hunting licenses are being sold, which means less revenue to work with. The decline could lead to a potential crisis for conservation and wildlife funding.
The DNR says that over the last two decades the number of licenses sold for Michigan deer hunting season have quickly declined.
"We don't have the same recruitment from our other generations so we don't have as much coming in from X generation type people so we are see a decline in those hunters. it's also that over the last 50 years it's been a generation shift from our urban environment where they live in the countryside I mean rural they moved to urban and we've seen less hunters come out of a urban environment," says Mark Sargent, Southwest Michigan wildlife regional supervisor.
And that's a problem because licenses fund wildlife and conservation efforts.
"90 percent is funded from hunters licenses or hunter generated dollars. So that means if we get a declining number of hunters we have less dollars to put toward wildlife conservation," says Sargent.
Over the years the fund largely came from those baby boomers who are now aging out of the sport.
"That group as they get older and that group of generation moves through, they start getting in their 60 and 70s, it's physically a lot harder for them to get out doors and a lot of times, somewhat, they lose some interest in hunting," Sargent says.
But there is hope.
Grand ValleY Sporting Goods owner, Gary Poliski, says he is seeing some interests in hunting from the youth.
"If their parents are involved in it then they get involved in it and i't something that they do with their fathers, that they do with their grandfathers. There's a lot of things tugging at them for their time but the people that embrace it and are passionate about it now it's still a very strong industry for sure," says Poliski.
But, whether or not the interests will continue is too early to tell.
But, conservationists are staying prepared.
"We are working with some private marketing companies to talk about the conservation mission, the conservation funding model and how people can be active in that to help promote conservation of wildlife and fishery resources," says Sargent.
The DNR says they are seeing an increase in women hunters and are hoping their programs will help get more kids on board and out hunting. You can find out more by clicking here.
And don't forget, firearm deer season in Michigan kicks off this Thursday, November 15th.