Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Hunting license sales improve in September

By Jeff
Mulhollem
Editor

Harrisburg — Although they still trailed last year’s pace,
hunting license sales picked up in September, according to figures
recently released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Compared to the same period last year, license sales were off 5
percent by the end of the ninth month. That’s an improvement over
the sales total for the end of August, when sales were down 9
percent from 2005.

Lagging the most are sales of non-resident licenses, down 8
percent, and antlerless deer licenses, down 10 percent.

Part of the drop in antlerless licenses was expected because the
Game Commission this year reduced the number of antlerless deer
licenses available by 20,000, or 2 percent, from 879,000 to 859,000
doe tags.

According to commission press secretary Jerry Feaser, despite a
lot of speculation by critics about the negative influence of the
agency’s deer-management program on sales, license sales are
turning out about the way game officials predicted.

“We were anticipating a drop of around 5 percent,” he said. “In
the second report from issuing agents which stated license sales
were down 9 percent, we cautioned that the seemingly high figure
was likely due to slow issuing agent reports.”

Feaser also pointed out that the continued increase in military
general hunting licenses and military antlerless deer licenses
indicates that Pennsylvania’s men and women in uniform are being
called to active duty and sent around the world.

“Thereby many of them are unlikely to purchase a license that
they most likely will not be able to use,” he said. “The increase
in the military classifications reflects those who will be on leave
and able to participate in our seasons.

“However, there is no way – without point-of-sale (license sales
system) – to identify how many of our license buyers are part of
the regular troops or national guard/reserve units that may or have
been called to active duty.”

The commission’s sales report shows that sales of armed forces
licenses are up 13 percent, but the impact of this category on the
agency’s financial picture is relatively minor, with less than
$10,000 being generated thus far this year.

Game Commissioner Greg Isabella, of Philadelphia, who warned
last month that it was premature to conclude license sales were
drastically falling, was not surprised by sales numbers looking
better.

“The only way we are going to know the true numbers is to wait
until the end of the year,” he said.

If current trends hold, hunting license sales will fall about 11
percent in the last two years in Pennsylvania. Commissioner Dan
Hill, of Erie, indicated the dropoff in sales may require the
agency to evaluate hunter dissatisfaction.

“We can speculate all we want now, but when the sales numbers
are in, if current trends continue, we will need to evaluate what
is happening and address hunter dissatisfaction,” he said.

By comparison, hunting license sales in the state of New York
fell by the same rate as Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2005 – 6
percent. Figures for this year to date were not available for the
Empire State.

In Ohio last year, license sales fell 4 percent from 2004, from
330,876 adult resident to 318,575. This year so far, according to
officials in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, hunting
license sales are keeping pace with last year.

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