Reversing declines of decline, hunter and angler numbers nationwide increased significantly over the past five years, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday.

“Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,”  Salazar said in a statement. “Outdoor recreation and tourism are huge economic engines for local communities and the country, so it is vital that we continue to support policies and investments that help Americans get outside, learn to fish, or go hunting. That is why, through President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have been focused on helping Americans rediscover the joys of casting a line, passing along family hunting traditions, and protecting the places they love.”

Hunter numbers across the country rose by 9 percent while anglers grew 11 percent, according to preliminary findings of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

Salazar said almost 38 percent of  Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation last year, a jump of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion — 1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product — on equipment, and outings, as well as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership.

Other findings:

• In 2011, 13.7 million people — 6 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older — hunted. They spent $34 billion, an average of $2,484 per hunter.

• More than 33 million people 16 and older fished last year, spending $41.8 billion, about $1,262 per angler.

• More than 71 million people watched wildlife in 2011, spending $55 billion.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted the  survey every five years since 1955.

“State agencies, hunters and anglers are the key funders of fish and wildlife conservation through their license and gear purchases,” said Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “An increase in participation and expenditure rates means that agencies can continue to restore and improve habitat and fish and wildlife species, bring more youth into the outdoors and provide even greater access to recreational activities.”

Similar reports will follow in coming months detailing state hunter and angler participation numbers and other information.