Outdoor nature activities soaring in popularity amidst pandemic

Local News

INDIANA (WANE) – All the restrictions from typical entertainment are creating a new interest in outdoor activities such as hunting and walking trails.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources has seen a four percent hike in hunting licenses issued this year. Deer Biologist Moriah Boggess said Hoosiers are tired of being cooped up at home and wearing masks.

“People are trying to get outdoors and have some time in nature, away from the hustle and bustle and all the craziness that this year has brought,” he said. “Getting outdoors is good for the soul. It’s good to get outdoors, get the fresh air, get a little exercise, and hunting provides that opportunity. Also, with the product of venison which is very lean meat, free range meat, it’s a great byproduct of the hunt.”

In neighboring Michigan, the number of people getting hunting licenses for the first time has jumped 80 percent. This nationwide trend is reversing a steady decline in hunting’s popularity that once appeared permanent.

Fort Wayne Trails are having a record year of usage. Through October 31 of this year there have been 590,197 uses of the 123 miles of trails. Last year by that point there was only a total was 457, 349. Back in April of this year there were 44,485 uses compared to the 87,569 of April 2019.

“There’s been a lot of bad things with the pandemic obviously,” said Megan McClellan, Exec. Director of Fort Wayne Trails Inc. “It’s a terrible, terrible time but there are some little golden linings and this is one of them. The fact that more people are getting outside and experiencing the wonderful trail system that Fort Wayne and Allen County has. People are getting out to new sections and really getting to experience the whole system. So that’s pretty exciting.”

McClellan believes although the weather is now getting cold, November and December will still be record months. October may be proof of that trend. Trail counts reached an all-time high in October, with 58,752 users for the month. The previous high count for October was in 2016 with 54,187.

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