Tuesday, July 10, 2012

UPDATED/QUOTES: Fishing license sales climb along with hot weather

 This year’s hot weather has brought the state’s fishing license sales to a full boil.

And that brewing has led to the sweet flavor of increased income to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Meanwhile, sales of Ohio’s various hunting licenses and tags are simply showing that right now most of the state’s outdoors types are more interested in catching fish than worrying about any faraway deer hunting season.

With very nearly all categories more people bought fishing licenses to-date this year than for the same period in 2011.

Typically, the bulk of Ohio’s fishing licenses are sold by the July 4th holiday time frame.

In the all-important resident fishing license category, sales of these documents are up 14.46 percent, from the 491,114 sold to-date in 2011 to the 562,142 to-date this year.

And the 562,142 figure is closing in on 2011’s total resident fishing license sales of 595,187 documents.
Similarly up are the to-date sales of non-resident annual fishing licenses (a 10.83 percent gain), to-date one-day resident fishing licenses (a 14.83 percent gain), to-date one-day non-resident fishing licenses (a 9.26 percent gain), and several others.

In all, the Wildlife Division issues 13 types of fishing licenses, some of which are given free to members of such groups as disabled veterans and certain qualifying senior citizens.

The money makers are, of course, the ones that people have to buy. And to-date this year, buy they have.

All of which has helped fill the Wildlife Division’s coffers.

Wildlife Division statistics report the taking in of an additional 13.88 percent to-date fishing license sales revenue. To-date receipts show that the Wildlife Division has collected $12,862,264 from the sale of all types of fishing licenses.

For the same to-date period in 2011 the Wildlife Division collected $11,294,196. Meanwhile, for all of 2011 the agency garnered $14,002,264 from all fishing license sales.

“We’re obviously happy to see the rebound but the weather last year was terrible and that’s what hurt us,” said Scott Zody, the Wildlife Division’s chief. “What this year’s fishing license sales are showing is how everyone wants to be out fishing.”

In terms of hunting license sales and their respective revenues, the final dollar number shows some gain but no where near that for fishing licenses.

To-date sales of general adult hunting licenses so far is 56,675 documents and compared to the same 2011 period when 60,153 such documents were issued.

This has resulted in a to-date 5.78 percent decline in revenue from the 2011 figure of $1,142,907 to the same period this year of $1,076,825.

Off also are the to-date sales of other hunting license or tag categories. Among them are non-resident annual hunting licenses (off 5.54 percent), deer either-sex permits for resident adults (down 13.35 percent), antlerless-only permits for resident adults (down 20.09 percent), and Ohio wetlands (state duck) stamp for adult residents (off 10.38 percent).

Nothing fell further or faster, though, than the Wildlife Division’s efforts to go from a free “Wild Ohio” magazine subscription to a paid one. This switch pretty much crashed and burned.

The 2011 to-date issuance of the agency’s promotional/informational magazine was 65,299. However, the 2012 to-date $10 subscription sales of “Wild Ohio” magazine is only 1,886. Add another 4,244 $5 subscriptions and the total number is still a fraction of what was previously given away.

Even so, Zody is far from ready to pull the plug on one of the agency’s print media venues often read by people other than just hunters and anglers.

“We knew there would be a significant decline when we went from a free subscription to a paid subscription,” Zody said. “But, gosh, it’s too early to stop publication. We need to give this new program a chance. Overall we are pleased with our ‘Wild Ohio’ magazine.”

Up, on the other hand, are the to-date sales of permits for use on the Wildlife Division’s enormously popular shooting ranges. Here, the 2012 to-date sales have shot holes in their respective to-date 2011 numbers.

For the to-date sales of the all-year range permit the Wildlife Division has issued 8,289 permits for a gain of 42.32 percent. In fact, more all-year range permits have been sold so far this year than in all of 2011 (7,893)

Much the same can be said for the agency’s to-date one-day range permit sales. So far in 2012 the Wildlife Division has sold 12,675 one-day range permits verses the 7,969 identical permits issued during the same time frame in 2011 for a huge gain of 59.05 percent.

“These sales reflect the increase in interest of shooting and the increase sales in firearms and ammunition,” Zody says. “This is a great first step for many of these shooters and the next one by us will be to try and get these people from being shooters to also being hunters.”

The to-date fiscal bottom line for the Wildlife Division and all of its hunting-related licenses and tags is still written in black ink: $16,400,970 and compared to the $14,892,384 for the same period in 2011; a 10.13 percent increase.

With all this being said Zody noted that the Wildlife Division is combing through its previous license sales data. In this way the agency will have a much better handle on trends in license sales.

“We should have that in about one month,” Zody said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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