Iowa’s Rabbit, Squirrel Seasons Open Sept 1

August 31, 2012

Iowa’s Rabbit, Squirrel Seasons Open Sept 1

The 2012-13 hunting seasons for cottontail rabbits and squirrels (fox and gray) open Sept. 1.

Cottontail Rabbits

Based on the DNR’s August roadside survey of upland game, southern Iowa has the best rabbit densities heading into fall, but hunters pursuing cottontails will likely find mixed results across the state compared to last year.

Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said numbers increased in some regions like northwest and southeast Iowa and declined west central and central Iowa.  Overall the south central and southeast regions showed the best cottontail densities.

The most effective techniques for hunters pursuing rabbits are stomping brush piles, walking slowly through abandoned farmsteads or along brushy fencerows, or wooded draws.

“The best form of rabbit hunting is done with the companionship of one or more beagles,” Bogenschutz said.  “Beagles and other trailing dogs can increase your success and improve the quality of the hunt.”

The cottontail season remains open until February 28, 2013, the daily bag limit is 10, and the possession limit is 20.  Shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset.

Hunters can view the roadside counts of cottontails on the DNR’s website at


Iowa’s squirrel numbers should be similar-to-slightly-better than last year, although squirrel numbers are hard to estimate because the DNR does not survey the population.

Squirrel populations typically peak following good mast years, and last fall there was a bumper crop across Iowa for white oaks and black walnuts.  Shagbark hickory and red oak mast production was average to above average, with a better mast production in southern Iowa.

“White oaks produced a poor crop in the fall of 2010, so this last fall was a positive change in hard mast production in Iowa’s woodlands,” said Todd Gosselink, forest wildlife biologist for the DNR.

Iowa’s mix of agriculture and woods make excellent habitat and provide plentiful waste grain for squirrels during the non-growing seasons.

“Squirrel numbers should be good for this year’s fall hunting season,” Gosselink said.

Fox squirrels can be found anywhere there are a few acres of trees, but gray squirrels are generally limited to the heavily forested areas in eastern and southern Iowa.

Squirrel hunting is best done in one of two ways, said Gosselink.

“The sit-and-wait technique is used near likely feeding areas such as beneath oak, walnut, or hickory trees or along corn-forest edges.  The still-hunting technique is employed by slowly walking through forested areas and stopping frequently to watch for feeding squirrels.  The best hunting times usually are during the morning and afternoon feeding hours,” Gosselink said.

Hunting opportunities for squirrels are excellent because hunting pressure is low, Gosselink said.  Last fall, an estimated 20,420 squirrel hunters harvested 117, 320 squirrels in Iowa, compared to 1960 when Iowa had 150,000 squirrel hunters and a harvested over 1 million squirrels.

The squirrel season opens September 1 and extends through January 31, 2013. The daily bag limit is 6 (fox and gray squirrels combined) and the possession limit is 12.  There are no restrictions on shooting hours

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Iowa’s Rabbit, Squirrel Seasons Open Sept 1

Moratorium on California Parks Closures Amidst $54 Million Funding Scandal

August 31, 2012

Moratorium on California Parks Closures Amidst $54 Million Funding Scandal

Many of California’s state parks that faced closure just weeks ago will be placed under two-year protection as officials continue to investigate the accounting scandal that led to the discovery of an extra $54 million in concealed state park funds.

California State Assembly bill AB 1478 officially approves the moratorium and allocates $30 million of the $54 million to keep the parks running. It also provides $500,000 for audits and investigations of park finances and $240,000 for the parks commission to exercise tighter oversight of agency operations, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

The bill passed the Senate 25 to 12 and the Assembly 50 to 15. It now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for final action. Yet, the Los Angeles Times articles point out that some legislators feel this is not the proper use of funds.

Some Republicans expressed concern that it doesn’t sufficiently address the problem of financial mismanagement — in fact, rewards it by allowing the department to spend money it hid.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) introduced the bill. He said it was “a concrete step to make things right [after] rogue bureaucrats … lied and concealed millions.”

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Moratorium on California Parks Closures Amidst $54 Million Funding Scandal

Commissioner Gassett Appointed to Kentucky’s Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

August 31, 2012

Kentucky’s Commissioner Gassett appointed to Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Dr. Jon Gassett has been appointed to a three-year term on the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, an advisory group established in 2010 by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to advise them on wildlife conservation, habitat conservation and hunting.

Gassett, current president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) and past president of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), is the only state fish and wildlife agency head among the 18 council appointments made by Salazar and Vilsack.

The council is an official advisory group established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act that helps promote and preserve America’s wildlife and hunting heritage for future generations.

It provides advice about conservation endeavors that benefit wildlife resources and recreational hunting. It encourages partnership among the public, the sporting conservation organizations, the states, Native American tribes and the federal government.

“During its inaugural term, members of the council provided important recommendations on conserving wildlife habitat and water resources that are so important to America’s hunting and angling heritage, as well as enhancing access to the great outdoors,” said Salazar. “I am confident that today’s appointments will provide a strong voice to the nation’s conservation and sportsmen communities and ensure that the next generation enjoys a thriving wildlife heritage.”

“America’s rural communities and rural economies depend on healthy soil, water and air and America’s hunters and anglers our nation’s first conservationists have long fought to conserve those precious resources,” said Vilsack. “These appointees are uniquely qualified to advise us on the full range of issues addressed by the council while reflecting the true conservation spirit of our nation’s outdoor traditions.”

Gassett also currently serves on the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, which works to promote the industry-federal-state relationship responsible for collecting and disseminating funding for the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.

He is a member of two federal task forces the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Joint Task Force and the Endangered Species Joint Task Force. He represents the Mississippi Flyway Council on the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, which allocates approximately $40 million annually for wetlands conservation across North America, and is a National Conservation Leadership Institute board member.

Others appointed to serve on the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council for a three-year term include:

  • David Allen (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
  • Jeffrey Crane (Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation)
  • Robert Fithian (Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Inc.)
  • Thomas Franklin (Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership)
  • Winifred Kessler (The Wildlife Society)
  • Robert Manes (The Nature Conservancy)
  • Frederick Maulson (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission)
  • Tommy Millner (Cabela’s)
  • Robert Model (Boone and Crockett Club)
  • Joanna Prukop (former New Mexico Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources)
  • Stephen Sanetti (National Shooting Sports Foundation)
  • Larry Schweiger (National Wildlife Federation)
  • Christine Thomas (College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin)
  • George Thornton (National Wild Turkey Federation)
  • John Tomke (Ducks Unlimited)
  • Howard Vincent (Pheasants Forever)
  • Steve Williams (Wildlife Management Institute)

The six federal agencies playing a key role in supporting and maintaining America’s outdoors heritage the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, will also appoint organizational members to the council.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Commissioner Gassett Appointed to Kentucky’s Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council

Signs of Fall: Hunters Take Field, Salmon Move in from the Ocean in Washington

August 31, 2012

Signs of fall: Hunters take field, salmon move in from the ocean in Washington

The sun is setting earlier and the leaves are beginning to turn color – signs of another change of season. Fall is in the air, and hunters are heading out for the first major hunting seasons of the year.

Archery hunts for deer get under way around the state Sept. 1, when hunting seasons also open for forest grouse, mourning dove and cottontail and snowshoe hare. Other seasons set to open this month include an archery hunt for elk, a black powder hunt for deer, and a turkey hunt in some areas of eastern Washington.

A youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant and other game birds runs Sept. 22-23 statewide. To participate, hunters must be 15 years old or younger and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting.

“We should have plenty of local ducks available in September, followed by a record number of birds coming down from the north later this year,” said Dave Ware, statewide game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The past mild winter and wet spring also bode well for deer and elk.”

But with wildfires burning in several parts of the state, Ware cautions hunters to be especially careful to avoid any action that might spark a blaze. Updates on fire conditions are available on the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ website at

Meanwhile, an estimated run of 655,000 chinook salmon is moving up the Columbia River, drawing anglers by the thousands. Farther north, coho salmon are pushing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the ocean, heading for rivers throughout Puget Sound.

“We’ve seen tremendous coho fishing the last two weeks of August in central Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW. “Fishing should continue to be good as more of those ocean coho make their way into the area.”

As new fishing seasons open, others are coming to an end. Crab fishing in most areas of Puget Sound is set to close at sunset Sept. 3, and WDFW is reminding crabbers that summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 – whether or not they actually caught crab this year. Completed cards can be submitted by mail or online at from Sept. 3 through Oct. 1.

Other changes are also apparent as summer’s end draws near. Bull elk can be heard bugling in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains as they begin to establish breeding territories. Warblers, vireos and other neotropical birds are now moving through the region as they make their annual migration south.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at These reports are updated throughout the month to provide current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Signs of Fall: Hunters Take Field, Salmon Move in from the Ocean in Washington

Fish and Wildlife Service Declares Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovered Under the Endangered Species Act

August 31, 2012

Service Declares Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovered Under the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Wyoming population of gray wolves is recovered and no longer warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Beginning September 30th, wolves in Wyoming will be managed by the state under an approved management plan, as they are in the states of Idaho and Montana.

“The return of the wolf to the Northern Rocky Mountains is a major success story, and reflects the remarkable work of States, Tribes, and our many partners to bring this iconic species back from the brink of extinction,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The wolf population has remained healthy under state management in Idaho and Montana, and we’re confident that the Wyoming population will sustain its recovery under the management plan Wyoming will implement.”

The most recent official minimum population estimate shows that the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population contains more than 1,774 adult wolves and more than 109 breeding pairs. Most of the suitable habitat across the Northern Rocky Mountain region is now occupied and likely at, or above, long-term carrying capacity. This population has exceeded recovery goals for 10 consecutive years.

The Service will continue to monitor the delisted wolf populations in all three states for a minimum of five years to ensure that they continue to sustain their recovery, and retains authority to reinstate ESA protections at any time if circumstances warrant.

“Our primary goal, and that of the states, is to ensure that gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains remain healthy, giving future generations of Americans the chance to hear its howl echo across the area,” added Ashe. “No one, least of all Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, wants to see wolves back on the endangered species list. But that’s what will happen if recovery targets are not sustained.”

Wyoming has committed to meeting its statutory and regulatory standards by managing for a buffer above minimum management targets. The management framework adopted by the State is designed to maintain at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs within the State of Wyoming. This is the same management objective as was adopted by the States of Montana and Idaho.

The Service expects the Greater Yellowstone Area wolf population to maintain a long-term average of around 300 wolves, while the entire Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment is expected to achieve a long-term average of around 1,000 wolves. These wolves represent a 400-mile southern range extension of a vast contiguous wolf population that numbers over 12,000 wolves in western Canada and about 65,000 wolves across all of Canada and Alaska.

In 2009, the Service published a final rule to remove ESA protections for gray wolves across the Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment, with the exception of those in Wyoming. Wyoming was not included because the state’s management plan did not provide the necessary regulatory mechanisms to assure that gray wolf populations would be conserved if the protections of the ESA were removed. Subsequently, the Service and the State of Wyoming developed points of agreement that would promote management of a stable, sustainable population of wolves and allow management authority to be turned over to the state. Wyoming subsequently developed a wolf management plan and amended its state law and regulations to codify those protections.

With publication of this final rule, the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves that includes all of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, the eastern third of Washington and Oregon, and a small corner of north-central Utah will be managed by state and tribal jurisdictions.

Today’s decision will take effect September 30th.

Biologists have determined that the vast majority of Wyoming’s wolf population and habitat is located in northwest Wyoming, where wolves will be managed as “trophy game” animals year-round. Trophy game status allows the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to regulate timing, methods, and numbers of wolves taken through regulated hunting and other methods such as control of wolves found to be depredating on livestock.

Existing Federal law prohibits hunting in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. No wolf hunting will occur in the John D.

Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, the National Elk Refuge, and the Wind River Reservation in 2012, although hunting could occur in these three areas in future years. Beginning October 1, the State of Wyoming has authorized a harvest of 52 wolves in other portions of northwestern Wyoming’s Trophy Area in 2012. Current information indicates only about ten percent of the Greater Yellowstone Area wolf population resides outside the Trophy Game Area in Wyoming, where they have been designated as predators and can be taken with very few restrictions.

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of the gray wolf, the bald eagle and many other species.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Fish and Wildlife Service Declares Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovered Under the Endangered Species Act

Utah Archery Buck Deer Permits are Still Available

August 31, 2012

Utah Archery Buck Deer Permits are Still Available

Sept. 16 is the last day to get one

If you enjoy hunting deer with a bow and arrow—but you don’t have a permit yet—the Division of Wildlife Resources has some good news: More than 700 general archery buck deer permits are still available, and you can get one now.

If you buy one of the permits, you can do two things: Hunt on the unit the permit is good for until the general archery season ends on Sept. 14. Then, if you haven’t taken a deer, you can hunt on any of Utah’s three extended archery areas.

The extended archery hunt runs until Dec. 15 on the Wasatch Front and Uintah Basin extended archery areas. On the Ogden Extended Archery Area, the hunt runs until Nov. 30.

If you’d like one of the remaining permits, make sure you buy it no later than Sept. 16.  Starting Sept. 17, any general archery permits that haven’t been sold yet will become muzzleloader permits.

At that point, all of the general archery deer permits will be gone.

Get a permit no later than Sept. 16

On Aug. 30, a total of 718 archery permits were still available for two units in northern Utah:

Unit                              Number of permits

Box Elder                    422

Cache                          296

Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the DWR, says even if you’re not going to hunt during the general archery hunt, but you’d like to hunt during the extended hunt, you need to get a permit right way.

“Starting Sept. 17,” she says, “you won’t be able to get one.”

Best place to get a permit

If you buy a permit from a hunting license agent or a DWR office, you can start hunting the day you buy the permit. If you buy a permit on the DWR’s website (, it could take up to 10 days for the permit to arrive in the mail.

“Even though you’ve paid for the permit,” Tutorow says, “you can’t hunt until the permit is in your possession.”

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Utah Archery Buck Deer Permits are Still Available

Survey Says Two-thirds of Montana Households Intolerant of Wolves, Even More Approve of Wolf Hunting

August 31, 2012

Click the image to enlarge

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) conducted four separate surveys to determine how residents viewed the state’s wolf hunt. In general, the surveys found that tolerance for wolves being on Montana landscape was low, while there was considerable tolerance for wolf hunting.

The four surveys were sent at separate times to 1,500 randomly selected Montana households, private landowners who own at least 160 acres, deer and elk license holders (hunters) and 1,000 wolf license holders.

Those surveyed answered questions about how tolerant they were of wolves on the Montana landscape, how tolerant they were of the concept of wolf hunting before and after the 2011 wolf hunt and how satisfied/dissatisfied they were with wolf management before and after the 2011 wolf hunt.

Unsurprisingly, 60 percent or more of landowners, deer-, elk- and wolf-hunters were “very intolerant” or just intolerant with wolves on the Montana landscape. Fifty-four percent of households were also very intolerant or intolerant of wolves. View the chart below to see how people responded.

Click the image to enlarge

The FWP was especially interested in how satisfied the public was with the department’s management of the 2011 wolf hunt to determine the regulation for future hunts. The following comments were the most common responses and suggestions left by survey participants:

  • The bag limit for hunting wolves should be more than one wolf.
  • There is a need for a better means of harvesting wolves (e.g., allow trapping, electronic calls, and baiting). Wolves are elusive and difficult to hunt.
  • There is a need to consider a longer hunting season for wolves in Montana.
  • Higher quotas are needed in areas of the state that have a high population of wolves and in areas where wolves are presenting the most problems.
  • There should be no limitations on hunting wolves. Treat wolves like coyotes. Wolves should be classified as a predator.
  • The regulations are good. Fine tune the regulation as needed.
  • The 12 hour harvest report time is not reasonable.
  • Hunters should not be allowed to leave a harvested wolf carcass in the field.

To see a copy of the full survey report hosted by the Billings Gazette, click here.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Survey Says Two-thirds of Montana Households Intolerant of Wolves, Even More Approve of Wolf Hunting

California Outdoors Q&As: Crossbows During Archery Season

August 31, 2012

California Outdoors Q&As – Crossbows During Archery Season

Question: There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding crossbow hunting in California. Are they legal for archery season? Some say only for handicapped hunters. Some say they are totally illegal for any game hunting whatsoever.

I know they are not considered archery equipment and therefore are not legal in place of a traditional bow during archery season. Does that include handicapped hunters? This leads me to believe they are legal for hunting during rifle season and can be used by all properly permitted hunters year-round for hogs as well as for turkey (in season) in cases where a shotgun would be legal.

What’s the minimum required bolt weight, fps or foot pounds of energy required for game hunting? I also see there are restrictions on broadheads. Could you please clarify those restrictions? Are those 4 inch wide bladed broadheads legal for turkeys? How about ducks?

I am actually looking to hunt feral hogs and turkey with a crossbow and want to be 100 percent legal. Can I hunt hogs with a crossbow during deer-archery season? Is it legal to carry a backup pistol while hunting with a crossbow? I am not handicapped, but my dad is. What rules apply to handicapped hunters with crossbows and what disability is required? (Mark, San Bruno)

Answer: You are correct that crossbows are not considered “archery” equipment in California hunting regulations, and they may not be used to take game birds and game mammals during archery-only seasons (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354(g)). But, there is an exception for holders of a Disabled Archer Permit. Regulation CCR Title 14, section 354(j) sets forth the process of obtaining a Disabled Archer Permit by a person with a disease or disorder affecting the hunter’s ability to draw and hold a bow in a firing position. This permit authorizes disabled archers to use a crossbow or device that holds a string and arrow in the firing position to assist in the taking of birds and mammals under the conditions of an archery tag or during archery season.

Crossbows are included as a legal method of take for turkeys (CCR Title 14, section 311(n)) and wild pigs (CCR Title 14, section 353(e)). Persons using a crossbow for taking big game species must use broadhead-type blades that can not pass through a hole 7/8 inches in diameter (e.g. the blade must be larger than 7/8 inches.) This minimum size requirement also applies to crossbow bolts when used for taking big game mammals. For additional requirements for taking pheasants and Migratory Game Birds, please review CCR Title 14, sections 354(d) through (g) and 354(i).

It is legal to take wild pigs with a crossbow (or firearm) in an area and during a time in which another big game species may only be taken with archery equipment.

Please go to DFG’s License and Revenue Branch website for information regarding the criteria related to Disabled Archers Permits.

Fish and Game regulations do not specify the maximum or minimum required bolt weight, fps or foot pounds of energy required for crossbows used for taking game. Even if your dad is hunting with a crossbow under a Disabled Archer Permit during the AO deer season, it is not legal to carry a backup pistol during this period.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - California Outdoors Q&As: Crossbows During Archery Season

Newcastle Outbreak Closes Islands in Minnesota

August 31, 2012

Newcastle Outbreak Closes Islands in Minnesota

Islands in Minnesota and Pigeon lakes in southern Minnesota will be posted as closed to trespass until risk of the potential spread of virulent Newcastle disease has diminished, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said today.

The DNR closed the islands to waterfowl hunters and all other lake users after the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the disease from samples collected during cleanup of dead cormorants in early August.

Although Newcastle disease rarely affects humans, it can occasionally cause conjunctivitis, a relatively mild inflammation of the inner eyelids, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota Lake’s restricted island is located near the western shore and is the site of a large water bird nesting colony. Temporarily lowered water levels have exposed the lake bed, providing a land route to the island.

Results from samples submitted from bird die-offs on several other lakes throughout Minnesota are pending. If the disease is confirmed, lakes with islands that may be closed include Mille Lacs; Johanna near Glenwood; Pelican near Brainerd; Chautauqua and Pelican near Fergus Falls; and Wells near Faribault.

Newcastle disease is a viral disease that most commonly infects cormorants, but also affects gulls and pelicans. Clinical signs of infection in wild birds are often neurologic and include droopy head or twisted neck, lack of coordination, inability to fly or dive and complete or partial paralysis. Juvenile birds are most commonly affected.

Wild birds can be a potential source of Newcastle disease and transmit the virus to domestic poultry if there is contact with them. Clinical signs in domestic poultry include sudden death; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production; diarrhea; nervous system disorders such as tremors or paralysis; and severe respiratory signs symptoms such as nasal discharge, runny nose, coughing and sneezing.

The Board of Animal Health (BAH) recommends that poultry producers, large and small, increase their on-farm biosecurity practices to prevent introductions into their poultry operations.  Such practices include visitor and vehicle restrictions; preventing wild bird introductions, especially birds that tend to nest in or feed with domestic birds; controlling movements associated with the handling and disposal of bird carcasses, litter and manure; and monitoring poultry flocks for any signs of illness.

If domestic birds show signs of illness, producers should contact their veterinarian, BAH at 320-231-5170 or the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at 800-605-8787.

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - Newcastle Outbreak Closes Islands in Minnesota

South Dakota Part of Nationwide Trend in Hunting/Fish Participation

August 31, 2012

South Dakota Part of Nationwide Trend in Hunting/Fish Participation

If fishing license sales are any indication, South Dakota is in line with a recent study showing an increase in the number of hunters and anglers in the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported preliminary results from their once-every-five-years study of hunting and fishing participation around the country. The study showed an 11 percent increase in the number of anglers over 2006.

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department reports one of its best years in fishing license sales in some time. Nearly 67,000 resident annual fishing licenses have been sold so far in 2012, compared to 56,000 at the same time in 2011. In 2006, there were 56,000 licenses sold for the entire year.

Hunting has seen a less dramatic increase, but the Fish and Wildlife Service survey numbers showed an increase in hunter numbers for the first time in two decades. Numbers in South Dakota have been fairly consistent over the past several years. With hunting seasons just beginning to open many license sales have not taken place, so it will be late in the year before 2012 can be compared to past years.

Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates – a leading research and data analysis firm focused on the sportfishing and hunting industries – says there are several factors that may be part of the increase.

“The slow economy has certainly had an impact,” Southwick said. “When the economy took a hit, a lot of people went back to enjoying more traditional activities that were also less costly than other options. Fishing license sales and tackle sales data all back that up.”

Another factor may be efforts by states, organizations and businesses to recruit and retain more anglers and hunters.

South Dakota, like many other states, has been active in promoting outdoor activities and in particular participation in hunting and fishing. GFP has worked with national organizations such as the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation, as well as other businesses and organizations with an interest in promoting these sports.

“It is a very rewarding experience when our staff introduces men and women, both young and old, to hunting and fishing,” said Tony Leif, director of the GFP Division of Wildlife. “We feel as though we are not only perpetuating a great South Dakota tradition, but also a way for our citizens to enjoy the many outdoor opportunities our state has to offer.”

Leif pointed to the work at GFP’s Outdoor Campuses in both Sioux Falls and Rapid City, as well as numerous one-day events GFP hosted throughout the summer in locations around the state that all offered hands-on experience in shooting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.

“The activities we host at our Outdoor Campuses and across the state in various communities are an open invitation for South Dakotans to become acquainted with the outdoor adventures our state has to offer. My hope is that after a sample of the fun, these folks will become life-long anglers and hunters,” Leif said.

For more information about hands-on learning opportunities through GFP, visit their website at .

Outdoor Hub, The Outdoor Information Engine - South Dakota Part of Nationwide Trend in Hunting/Fish Participation

Next Page »