Actively promoting the sports of hunting and fishing

Tim LesmeisterThere are certain state departments of natural resources that do their best to actively promote the outdoor sports, while it seems others do what they can to hinder the enjoyment of the outdoors by using the protection of the resource or tradition as an excuse to constrain anglers and hunters.

One example is the use of multiple lines for fishing. The state of Iowa just instituted the ability to fish a third line if an angler wants to purchase a Bonus Line license. There are few states left that don’t allow more than one line on a lake or river when fishing for gamefish. The states that still require anglers to fish only one line emphatically state that the resource will be damaged from overfishing, but there is little research to support their theory. There’s actually little research to support that using more than one line wouldn’t hurt the fishery, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence where states that allow more than one line per angler still have high quality resources. It would seem states that only allow one line per angler don’t care to change tradition or mess with the current status quo for fear of alienating a portion of the population that hate change.

How about fishing seasons in some states? Dr. Hal Schramm, a noted Professor of Wildlife and Fisheries at Mississippi State University had an article in the North American Fisherman magazine that discussed fishing bedding bass where he stated, “Fears of bed-fishing destroying bass fisheries – promulgated by some scientists over the past two decades – are without substance in all lakes except those with so few adult bass, they aren’t worth fishing anyway.”

So here I am in Minnesota where there is a bass season, having to wait until June to fish for largemouth on some quality bass lakes. How is this actively promoting the sport of bass fishing when there is a worthless season on this species?

It’s even worse with walleyes. There is a lake in Minnesota called Mille Lacs where Indian tribes from Minnesota and Wisconsin start dropping gill nets into the lake right when the ice goes out. These nets are harvesting tens of thousands of pounds of the prime breeding stock of walleyes, yet anglers still have to wait until the season is open to start fishing. Why? To protect the breeding stock. Go figure. Why not just have a year-round open season on any lakes where tribal netting occurs?

For many years it has been illegal to hunt on Sundays in Pennsylvania. A study conducted for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation showed that eliminating the Sunday hunting ban across all seasons would create a total of 8,193 new jobs and provide an economic boost of more than $764 million for the Pennsylvania economy. And there are five other states besides Pennsylvania that don’t allow hunting on Sunday. The weird thing is when this anomaly is discussed by state hunters about half like it that way.

So one can plainly see that it is extremely difficult to mess with tradition even when the results of that tradition make no sense. Another truth here is that any good idea can be blocked by doing the Chicken Little dance and predicting the end of a resource should any change be made, whether there is evidence to back it up or not. Fortunately there are still a few states where the people in charge of the resources are actively promoting the outdoor sports.

Categories: Tim Lesmeister

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