Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ohio's hunting and fishing license sales dampened by wet spring


The hard rains in April and in May appear to have soften the sales of both Ohio fishing and hunting licenses.

Based on to-date data supplied by the Ohio Division of Wildlife via its several-year-old computer-based license-issuing system, 378,940 resident fishing licenses were issued as of May 30th. That figure is a 5.71 percent decline from the 401,907 similar licenses issued figure for the same period in 2016, the data shows. Translated this drop amounts to a revenue slump of $436,373; or $7.64 million generated thus far verses the $7.2 million generated for the same time frame in 2016.

Among other significant angling licenses taking a thus far to-date hit include non-resident annual fishing (off 4.48 percent); three-day fishing (off 8 percent); and one-day non-resident (off 15.89 percent).

However, showing some increases are reduced-cost resident angler (up 2.23 percent); one-day resident (up 24.24 percent) and one-day Lake Erie charter fishing/non-resident (up 3.56 percent).

Even so, the total to-day revenue decline for the Wildlife Fund as it relates to sales hiccups amounts to around $500,000.

Not to worry, however, says Wildlife Division assistant chief Scott Hale, who did admit that the nearly six-percent decline in to-date resident fishing license sales caught him a little by surprise; but only by a little.

“We’ve seen a lot of nasty weather on Lake Erie this spring and though the fishing’s been good when anglers can get out, that’s been spotty; hit or miss,” Hale said. “And Lake Erie fishing does drive fishing license sales.”

Hale says too that the Wildlife Division frequently sees a bump in fishing license sales as the calendar tips over from near the Memorial Day holiday period and toward early summer but “we just have not seen that happen yet.”

And though hunting season for practically anything is still a good ways off, some resident Ohioans and a handful of non-residents do buy their general licenses early. Just not as many to-date sales as what was experienced for the same period in 2016.

The to-date resident general hunting license sales figure stands at 50,970 verses 53,843 for the same period in 2016. That drop accounts for a to-date decline in revenue of nearly $55,000. Discounting special tags for deer, turkey and waterfowl the to-date revenue dip amounts to $36,064. Again, not a problem, says Hale.

“We plan for these ups and downs,” Hale says.

Other revenue stream and license sales ebbs and flows appear on the to-date ledger as well. Not terribly surprising was good end-of-season spring turkey tag sales, Hale said, with very nearly identical resident issuances: 41,876 in 2016 and 41,851 this year – a statistically insignificant 0.06 decline.

Moreover, non-resident turkey tag sales demonstrated an actual increase: From 3,975 permits sold to this segment of hunters in 2016 to 4,311 this year, or an 8.45 percent increase.

Down significantly, though, are sales of both annual and one-day shooting range permits; these sales slips required for anyone utilizing one of several full-service Wildlife Division shooting ranges. Here, the to-date number of annual shooting range permits sold in 2016 was 6,745 while the to-date corresponding 2017 figure was 5,577. That is a drop of 17.32 percent.

A nearly identical fall of 17.82 percent has also struck sales of one-day shooting range permits. Coupled together and the to-date revenue slippage for range permit sales decline totals $35,947.

However, Hale explains that in all probability the decline in both annual and daily shooting range permit sales is attributable to the on-going closure and rehabilitation work being performed at the Wildlife Division’s Delaware Wildlife Area shooting range complex.

“This range is located close to the Columbus area and is very popular with shooters,” Hale said.

Perhaps less explainable is the nasty drop in the number of direct financial donations made to the Wildlife Division’s four such accounting cubicles: donations for the agency’s Diversity and Endangered Species Fund; its Habitat Fund; Wildlife Fund; and one additional Wildlife Fund account. In all donations to these accounts are off a staggering nearly 51 percent for a to-date income loss of $10,938 ($20,568 to-date 2016, and $9,630 to date this year).

Lastly, Hale says that sales of hunting and fishing license, special tags and such by people utilizing on-line services including computers, tablets, and smart phones is now running about 25 percent.
“This method purchasing licenses and permits has certainly grown from the earlier years of online sales, so they are definitely catching on,” Hale says

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