Does pheasant program’s ‘marketing’ value negate need for Pennsylvania pheasant-hunting stamp?

About a month ago, I posted a blog about the angry response from readers to comments made by a game commissioner who opposes creation of a pheasant stamp in Pennsylvania to help pay the steep costs of the pheasant-stocking program. 

The Game Commission has spent upwards of $4 million annually in recent years stocking more than 200,000 birds for hunters, and as the prospect of tight budgets looms with the dwindling of game lands Marcellus shale natural gas receipts, the agency’s expensive pheasant program has come under scrutiny.

Commissioner Tim Layton, of Windber, Pa., made some comments at the commission’s recent meeting that were seen as elitist by many readers (https://www.outdoornews.com/October-2015/It-seems-like-most-agree-Pennsylvania-needs-a-pheasant-hunting-stamp/). I agreed with offended readers, but suggested that Layton didn’t really mean what he said.

In response, Layton said he thought my blog was “brutal” and that he believes his remarks were misinterpreted, so he issued the following clarification about his rationale for opposing a pheasant stamp. In it, he characterizes the Game Commission as a business – perhaps unrealistically so – and argues against the creation of a users fee.

You can decide whether he’s right or wrong: 

Layton

“I have received a fair amount of negative press about my position on the pheasant stamp issue and found it necessary to explain my position.

“My outlook on the pheasant program is that it is part of our marketing program. Every business must invest in certain aspects of its business in order for the business to grow. 

“The amount of money required for marketing is never small. We will never grow our business plan if we are not willing to invest in marketing to our hunters. 

“In this case, making pheasants available to all hunters without barriers, the pheasant program is a marketing effort to retain and recruit hunters. Our surveys clearly show that our hunters strongly support the pheasant program. 

“Sure it would be nice to have the program pay for itself; but in essence it does. 

“We invest a tremendous amount of this money into our game lands system … but you need something to hunt.

“Given the increasing demand on places to hunt, and the desperate shape our agricultural landscape is in and what it has to offer for small game – which is almost non-existent, with little hope for a landscape level turnaround – put-and-take pheasant hunting is an investment necessary to at least offer our hunters something to hunt.

“Companies that succeed during tough times are usually companies with enough vision to make prudent investments in certain aspects of their business. Achieving prosperity requires vision, balanced risk, and innovation. 

“Government agencies usually struggle with this concept; fortunately the Game Commission is able to deal with this complexity better than most government agencies because we are forced to operate on our own earnings. If we find ways to increase revenues, we can make more investments into our programs, exactly like a non-funded entity does. 

“Because the agency is forced to operate on our own self-generated revenue, the concept of marketing and branding becomes pivotal to our ability to maintain and grow our business of conservation. 

“Keeping hunting available to our hunters, finding ways to get young hunters to participate, and re-engaging lapsed hunters is not only the right thing to do, it is smart business in the long term. That is why I am not currently in favor of a pheasant stamp.”

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Hunting News, PenBlogs, Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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