Prime weather drives fishing license sales

Columbus — Sales of Ohio fishing licenses are at a fever pitch thanks in no small part to the long stretch of unseasonably warm weather.

For hunting license sales, not so much, however.

The DNR Division of Wildlife is reporting that for all categories of fishing licenses, sales are up nearly 30 percent when compared to the same period in 2011.

This number includes a nearly 35-percent rise in the number of the all-important resident fishing licenses, the money-making engine that drives the wildlife division’s fisheries program.

Here to-date sales of licenses climbed from 321,780 in 2011 to 433,799 in 2012. Only in two narrowly defined categories of free fishing licenses were drops noted.

Thus the wildlife division reported a to-date 33-percent revenue gain from the $7.36 million collected for the period in 2011 to the $9.8 million collected thus far in 2012.

“So far, the 2012 fishing license sales are up, which is a great sign,” says Andy Burt, the wildlife division’s licensing coordinator. “Last year we had a poor spring for fishing where it was either too wet or too cold and if it was nice, it was only during the week, not the weekends.”

This year’s weather and sales appear to be just the North Pole opposite from last year, Burt says.

“The dichotomy in the years makes this year appear like it may end up being a huge increase in sales when over the long term it is only slightly above average,” Burt says.

As a result, says Burt, the wildlife division will wait until after the July 4th holiday period before projecting where sales of fishing licenses will wind up.

“There is a large proportion of anglers who buy licenses in the spring, but with summer vacations and nice boating weather, there are still a decent number of licenses sold throughout the summer,” Burt says. “However, if they don’t buy a license by the end of July, they likely won’t buy a license at all.”

The yin to the robust fishing license sales yang is the lackluster sales of hunting licenses. And in virtually every category that matters, too.

The to-date sales of resident hunting licenses fell nearly 7 percent this year when compared to the same period in 2011.

Also off are the sales of youth-only hunting licenses, antlerless-only licenses (down 23 percent), and either sex deer tags.

Down, too, was the sale of spring turkey tags, which were required for the recently concluded season for this category. Here, a drop of more than 1,000 permits were noted in the adult category and which resulted in a decline in revenue for wild turkey management of almost $80,000.

Overall, therefore, the wildlife division has experienced a to-date shrinkage of hunting license sales-generated revenue of nearly $1 million.

“I don’t look too much on the to-date hunting license sales, but I’m not sure how these licenses compare to the five-year average but this year’s sales are down,” Burt said.

Burt did say that a “bump” in hunting license sales will come with the waterfowl season opener and a much larger jump just before the start of the general archery deer hunting season.

The bottom line, says Burt, is that it’s “too early to tell about the sale of hunting licenses.”

“We do know that sales of hunting licenses are declining in general though we’ll wait to see what happens after the deer gun season when most of our hunting licenses are sold,” Burt said.

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