Bama’s License Numbers Up, Or Are They?

Annual surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show a range of data for hunting and fishing, including license sales and expenditures for all 50 states.

Getting youngsters involved in hunting and fishing is critical for the future of both pursuits.

Getting youngsters involved in hunting and fishing is critical for the future of both pursuits.

Data is compiled over a five-year period and then released by the USFWS. The most recent report was released in 2012. It’s a great indicator of trends in the hunting and fishing industry, and gives states and hunters a good bank of research to examine.

The Montgomery Advertiser took a gander at Alabama’s numbers, which show an increase of license sales to about 535,000 in 2011. That’s up from 423,000 in 2001, a pretty healthy jump and, honestly, not surprising for a state with such deep roots in the hunting and fishing traditions.

The newspaper, though, cited a change by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources a few years ago in the way it structures license sales. The state began selling a combo hunting-fishing license, and that’s counted in both categories.

Fuzzy math? Maybe. But it does beg the question of whether anglers buying a combo license are counted as hunters, even if they don’t hunt. I don’t know if this structure is in place in other states. Considering that excise taxes returned to states for sales of some hunting and fishing gear goes back to help the hunters and anglers, it’s debatable about whether it matters if one license is counted as the other.

The bottom line is that licensed anglers and hunters are increasing.

“We have seen natural growth in our licensed hunters since 2006,” Gary Moody, wildlife division chief of the Alabama DCNR, told the Advertiser. “It’s encouraging to see our numbers and the national numbers increasing. Hopefully, it’s a trend that we can see continue.”

Agreed. In a time when hunting and shooting sports are taking hits from multiple sides and youngsters have other diversions pulling them indoors, increases are good. It should be a sign for all hunters and anglers that continued efforts are needed to continue fostering these traditions and provide accessible lands for pursuing them.

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— Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor