AUGUSTA — Preliminary figures released Friday say 49 percent of all Maine residents 16 and older hunted, fished or watched wildlife in the state last year, and that a total of $1.4 billion was spent on those activities.

The figures were compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which issues a report every five years that looks at who participated and what they spent on hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. The data is sorted by state, region and nation.

A full report with Maine numbers will be available in December. But, numbers based on Fish and Wildlife Service surveys so far show 1.1 million residents and nonresidents did some sort of wildlife-associated activity in Maine last year. That includes 838,000 wildlife watchers, 341,000 anglers and 181,000 hunters. Together, they spent more than $1.4 billion, which includes travel expenses and equipment.

Nationally, 38 percent of the U.S. population enjoyed some form of wildlife-associated activity last year, spending a combined $145 billion on the activities. The total spending was achieved following increases in hunting and fishing nationally between 2006 and 2011. The number of people who fished increased by 11 percent during that period, while hunting participation increased by 9,000 from 2006 through last year.

But state officials are concerned about the economic impact of a decline in nonresident hunters coming to Maine. The 35,301 nonresident licenses bought in Mane in 2006 declined by 9,000 in 2011, according to state Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department.

However, hunting license sales to Maine residents are increasing. The more than 173,660 hunting licenses sold in 2006 increased by 4,000 in the last year.

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