Tuesday, July 26, 2016

UPDATED THROUGHOUT- CORRECTED/ Ohio's to-date fishing/hunting license sales up





With sales of fishing tags on the seasonal wane and those for hunting on the cusp of their seasonal commencement, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is reporting increased license sales of nearly all types.

The net result is an infusion of money into the agency’s Wildlife Fund to the tune of $814,824 in additional revenue over the to-date 2015 ledger entry.

The tally of resident annual fishing sold to-date this year numbers 583,353 while the same 2015 to-date resident fishing license sales figure was 553,739 for a 5.35 percent increase. In all, for 2015 the Wildlife Division sold 635,732 resident fishing licenses.

The increase, says one Wildlife Division official says, is largely tied with a bow directly to the fisheries gift offered by Lake Erie to its anglers though the state’s inland fisheries are pretty darn good, too.

Weather and the quality of Lake Erie fishing have always been important factors associated with good fishing license sales,” says Scott Hale, one of two agency assistant chiefs.

“Good weather patterns are certain to influence participation in our numerous inland lakes, rivers and streams, and the Ohio River, as well.” 

Up, too, so far this year is the number of non-resident annual fishing licenses. The to-date figure for these licenses stands at 34,166 whereas for the same period in 2015 the number was 31,916 for a 7.05 percent increase. Last year the Wildlife Division sold a total of 36,390 non-resident annual fishing licenses; an obvious indicator that such tag sales have crested and have begun to seasonally recede.

Increased also are sales of the state’s one-day resident, one-day non-resident and three-day fishing licenses. For the first category the number rose from 3,626 one-day resident fishing licenses to 4,310 for a gain of 18.86 percent. In 2015 the Wildlife Division sold 10,667 of these permits.

As for the one-day non-resident fishing licenses those tags climbed from the 17,602 figure in 2015 to the to-date number of 18,706 for a gain of 6.27 percent. Last year the Wildlife Division issued 29,549 such permits.

“One-day fishing license sales are very much weather dependant,” said Wildlife Division communications spokesman, John Windau. “Often buying one is a last-minute decision.”

Three-day license sales also rose, though statistically by a rather insignificant number: from a to-date 2015 number of 19,144 to 19,636 thus far and for a paltry gain of just 2.57 percent. In 2015 the Wildlife Division sold 26,737 such tags.

Up as well, though of only tiny significance, have been sales of the so-called one-day resident Lake Erie charter fishing licenses. To-date last year just 720 of these licenses were issued compared to 734 such permits sold to-date this year. Just 1,684 of these licenses were sold.

In terms of fishing license sales the only category to experience a drop was that for the one-day non-resident Lake Erie charter tags. Here the to-date number fell from 7,370 to 7,352; or hardly a dent in the to-date total. Last year the Wildlife Division sold 11,649 of these tags.

What all of this means in the way of additional to-date fishing license-related sales revenue is that to-date in 2015 the Wildlife Division collected close to $13.5 million whereas so far this year the agency has seen fishing license sales receipts totaling around $14.1 million; a 4.93-percent increase. For all of 2015 the Wildlife Division sold nearly $15.4 million worth of fishing licenses of all kinds, said Andy Burt, the Wildlife Division’s licensing coordinator.

Though hunting license sales typically and always take a back seat to sales of their fishing tag counterparts, there is always an uptick the closer the season arrive. And with such early seasons as those for teal, Canada geese and squirrel sales activity the various hunting permits will begin to rise shortly.

As it now stands the to-date number of resident general hunting licenses is positioned at 59,230 such documents compared to its comparable 2015 number of 58,505 such tags for a 1.24 percent rise. Last year the Wildlife Division sold 267,636 resident general hunting licenses.

Up even higher on a percentage basis – 9.3 percent, in fact – are the reduced-cost general hunting licenses sold to resident senior citizens age 66 and older and who are not eligible for free general resident hunting license. The to-date figure for this class of tags is 10,375 compared to its 2015 counterpart of 9,492. Last year the state issued 24,528 of these licenses.

There is little reason to put much stock yet in the number of general non-resident hunting licenses having been sold. The to-date number for both last year and this year are equally small when stacked up against the final total. Last year the to-date number for this category was 3,514 while this year’s to-date figure is 3,768. Last year the Wildlife Division sold 39,361 such licenses.

Without belaboring the actual figures due to their small to-date numbers and relevance are the two youth-only licenses (youth apprentice and youth hunting) as well as the general apprentice license sales. All show declines in their to-date sales but by very small percentages with equally small total figures when lined up against their respective final 2015 numbers.

Down too are the to-date figures for nearly all sales categories of deer-hunting tags. However, in some cases – such as the sale of general resident antlerless-only permits - the to-date numbers provided by the Wildlife Division are in the low triple-digit range when the agency actually sells tags totaling in the upper five-figure and even six-figure range.

Much the same applies to more than one-half of the sales of the various fall-only wild turkey hunting tags and nearly all of the various trapping permits.

Up, though, were the sales of this past season’s various spring wild turkey hunting licenses. The number of resident (adult) spring turkey hunting tag issued in 2015 was 41,395; a figure which crept up to 41,876 this year.

This rising tide of spring turkey permits helped float those sold as resident reduced cost (senior citizen) spring turkey-hunting tags along with non-resident adult spring turkey hunting tags, and youth-only spring turkey-hunting licenses.

“Part of the reason, again, was good weather during the spring turkey season, but we hope that trend continues as we move into fall,” Hale says also.

In the run-up to the typical push by hunters to buy their various licenses, tags and permits the Wildlife Division has to date sold slightly more than $1.8 million worth of general hunting licenses. In 2015 that to-date figure was just under $1.8 million, so the figures are very comparable, agency officials say.

Both figures are likewise small and reflect that the Wildlife Division isn’t even close to selling anywhere near the number of general hunting licenses that sportsmen typically buy. In 2015 the agency sold nearly $11 million worth of general hunting licenses.

The same goes for income raised through the sale of deer tags. Last year at this time the agency sold $77,754 worth of deer-hunting permits while $76,797 worth of such licenses have been sold thus far in 2016.

However, both figures are dwarfed by the total dollar amount the Wildlife Division raised via deer-hunting tags last year; a reflection that hunters wait until much closer to the season - and throughout the season - before buying their required documents. Last year the Wildlife Division sold about $9.6 million worth of deer tags.

Perhaps reflecting an increase interest in shooting rifles and handguns the Wildlife Division is seeing a substantial increase in the number of shooting range permits the agency sells.

The to-date figure for sales of the Wildlife Division’s one-day shooting range permit has grown 25.64 percent; from the 11,636 such permits sold to-date in 2015 to 14,620 thus far in 2016. Last year the agency issued 35,129 such permits.

Likewise the sale of annual range permits has climbed; this figure by 14.16 percent. To-date in 2015 the number of annual tags was 7,668 whereas its 2016 counterpart is 8,754. In 2016 the Wildlife Division sold 9,894 annual range permits.

Not surprisingly then the income generated by range permit sales has risen, too; up 15.4-percent thus far alone – from $250,447 to-date in 2015 to $289,022 to-date this year. Last year the Wildlife Division sold $413,101 worth of range permits, Burt said.

“There certainly is a lot of interest in firearms, and people wondering where they can shoot,” Windau said. “That’s particularly true if the person is unfamiliar with where to become a member of a sportsman’s or gun club.”

Certainly pleasing to the Wildlife Division has been sales of its official periodical “Wild Ohio” magazine. This is particularly true for the sales associated with persons buying or have bought either a hunting license or a fishing license. Instead of the usual $10 annual subscription price persons who buy or hold either a fishing license or a hunting license can also purchase an annual “Wild Ohio” subscription for $5.

In 2015 the to-date number of such $5 reduced cost subscriptions stood at 5,592. To date this year those sales are 8,445; a number which represents more subscriptions sold than for all of 2015 – 7,909 to be exact.

“We’re pleased that ‘Wild Ohio’ magazine sales have also increased compared to last year,” Hale said.

Still, “Wild Ohio” subscriptions for those persons who have not purchased a fishing or hunting license is $10 annually; and sales here have plummeted by nearly 37 percent, though actual paid subscriptions are small. Last year to-date the Wildlife Division sold 411 of the $10 annual subscriptions. To-date this year that figure stands at 563. For all of 2015 the Wildlife Division sold 852 “Wild Ohio” annual subscriptions at the $10 rate.

“We’re in the fourth year of paid circulation but it’s not really very expensive nor difficult to sign up for; most subscribers sigh-up when they buy a fishing of hunting license,” Windau said. “No question, more people are becoming aware of the magazine.”

Also, the to-date sale of the $15 Legacy stamps has risen: from 1,247 in 2015 to 1,612 to-date this year. In 2015 the Wildlife Division sold 2,270 Legacy stamps.

For $15 a Legacy stamp buyer gets a copy of the collector stamp, a “window cling” associated with the stamp program, and a commemorative card. Money raised via this program goes into the agency’s Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund.
Combining the sale of both “Wild Ohio” magazine subscriptions and Legacy stamps and the Wildlife Division has collected $79,399 to-date this year versus $57,085 to-date in 2015. For all of last year the Wildlife Division sold $101,573 worth of “Wild Ohio” subscriptions and Legacy stamps, Burt said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

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