People across the globe have been hunting since prehistoric times – paleontologists say there is evidence to suggest the practice was carried out in some parts of the world around two million years ago, long before the evolution of Homo sapiens. Back then, hunting was necessary for survival. Today, however, hunting has developed into a sport and a form of recreation in western cultures. In 2015, more than 15 million people participated in hunting in the United States. In the U.S., hunting is generally regulated on a state-by-state basis but all protected species hunters country-wide are required to hold a hunting license. There were 14.84 million paid hunting license holders in the U.S. in 2015.
Wildlife viewing, while not as historical, is an even more popular form of outdoor recreation in the U.S. It involves observing nature in its natural habitat and might include such activities as bird watching, safaris and scuba diving. There are around 21 million people who participate in wildlife viewing annually in the United States. The activity is a favorite recreational past time for Hispanics, with only running and jogging achieving a higher participation rate.
While wildlife viewing is an activity which can be done at virtually no cost, hunting can be a costly hobby. Not only do participants have to purchase the firearms and bullets, they may also have to pay for a license to participate. In 2015, the gross cost of hunting licenses in the U.S. amounted to 821 million U.S. dollars.
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