If you’ve ever traveled through Maine or Vermont, it’s immediately clear as to why the states are such a draw to outdoor enthusiasts.

Not only are they teeming with wildlife, they are covered with a blanket of forests, fields, streams and lakes. Quite simply, they are an outdoor paradise matched only by locations such as Alaska and our neighbors to the north, Canada.

Those outdoor paradises have been a draw to hikers, campers, tourists and, most importantly, hunters and anglers. It has been such a draw, in fact, the two have become the dominant New England states in terms of being a destination location for hunting and fishing.

The proof of such a statement, as they say, is in the pudding. According to a study done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine has maintained its license sales over the last 10 years and Vermont has seen a dramatic jump in sales while most other New England states have suffered significant declines in the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses.

“Maine’s outdoors remains a destination for anglers and hunters, drawing people to the inland waters and woods and the sporting opportunities available there,” said Roland Martin, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner. “The last 10 years have included tough economic times, when many people have tightened their belts. People still see Maine hunting and fishing licenses as a bargain, and are not cutting them from their budgets.”

According to the study, from 1999-2009, Maine fishing license sales have remained pretty consistent, rising over that span just 0.19 percent. In 1999, 272,528 Maine fishing licenses were sold. In 2009, 273,038 were sold.

Vermont saw an increase in fishing license sales to the tune of a dramatic increase, up 20.8 percent. Other states, unfortunately, saw massive drops in sales–Connecticut fell by 15.91 percent in fishing license sales; Massachusetts dropped 12.09 percent; New Hampshire fell 15.54 percent; and Rhode Island was down 26.92 percent.

For hunting license sales, all New England states saw decreases over the same 10-year time span. Maine had the smallest, with a decrease of 5.85 percent. In 1999, the state sold 207,004 hunting licenses while selling just 195,568 in 2009.

Other New England states were hit harder. The declines are: Connecticut: 26.10 percent; Massachusetts, 25.50 percent; New Hampshire, 28.25 percent; and Rhode Island, 28.97 percent.

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