The Hearald Mail – Hagerstown, MD (serving MD, PA and WV) to
To The Editor:
If they could read, wildlife all over the country would be
celebrating the recent news that participation in hunting and fishing
has declined within Pennsylvania and also nationwide. While some
attribute the decline to people not being as “outdoorsy” as they used to
be, others are coming to the realization that violence disguised as
recreation is nonetheless violence and as such is wholly unacceptable.
As Shakespeare said "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would
smell as sweet."
As the interest in hunting wanes, non-violent wildlife watching has
become the dominant form of wildlife-related outdoor recreation. The
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports in its 2006 National Survey of
Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation that over 71
million people spent time observing, feeding and photographing wildlife
last year nationwide, outdistancing the interest in hunting which saw
only 12.5 million participants in that same time period. In
Pennsylvania, more than three times as many people participated in
wildlife watching than hunting.
The time has come to change the way the Pennsylvania Game Commission
and all state hunting agencies do business by halting the cycle of
managing wildlife populations solely to benefit hunters at the expense
of wildlife, habitat and biodiversity. Let’s replace the taxes on
weapons, ammunition and hunting/fishing equipment and with similar taxes
on outdoor-related equipment such as binoculars, backpacks, and cameras
used by wildlife watchers. Funds collected from these alternate taxes
can be dedicated toward the protection and preservation of wildlife and
the areas where they live, making the need to depend on hunting, weapons
and violence obsolete. To protect wildlife and the areas where they live
please visit www.wildwatch.org.
Joe Miele, Vice President
Wildlife Watch, Inc.
Hunting license sales continue to decline in Pa.
By DON AINES
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - From the hunting and fishing equipment in his
chambers, it would appear Franklin County Judge John Walker buys most of
his decor at Gander Mountain.
An outdoorsman since his early teens, Walker has a quote from Ralph
Waldo Emerson on one piece of artwork:
"Adopt the pace of nature: Her secret is patience."
Impatience, or the need for instant gratification, is one possible
reason Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser cited for the
decline in hunting license sales in the state, which peaked at 1.3
million in 1981-82 and last year were below 1 million for the second
year in a row.
"It's important to understand our culture and society has changed,
demographically as well as in its expectations," Feaser said last week.
In a world where faster is considered better, "hunting is not something
that fits in with that expectation," he said.
Anyone who has sat for hours in a tree stand or blind waiting for
game knows that patience is a key ingredient of hunting. Feaser said
there are other factors in the decline, including an aging state
population, changing families and greater competition for time.
"When I was a kid, you belonged to the Boy Scouts and you went
hunting and fishing. You might play a sport in high school," Walker
said. "The competition for a kid's time now is so much greater than it
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reported that the number
of hunters 16 and older declined 10 percent between 1996 and 2006, from
14 million to about 12.5 million. The drop was biggest in the West and
New England, according to the report.
The loss of hunting land is another reason for the decline, Feaser
said. He cited an article that stated Pennsylvania's "urbanized
footprint" grew 47 percent between 1982 and 1997, while its population
increased just 2.5 percent.
Walker said he used to hunt rabbits where a large housing development
now stands. Suburban development means hunters have to go farther away
"You are seeing land lost that was formerly open to hunting ... Once
that land is lost, they don't make any more," Feaser said. Pennsylvania
is losing about 300 to 350 acres a day to development, he said.
Another factor is the changing family.
"The demographic pyramid has been turned on its head," Feaser said.
The state is aging and its population growth is low, with succeeding
generations having fewer children, he said.
Walker agreed, adding that more divorces mean that "Dad often doesn't
take Junior hunting." Walker was an infant when his father was killed in
World War II, and he went hunting with a friend and his father.
"It's a time when you build relationships," Walker said of the hours
spent in the woods. "It gave a parent and child something the kid
doesn't get sitting in front of a computer."
One other factor that might be driving down the number of licenses being
sold is the deployments of active duty, guard and reserve military
personnel during the war on terror, many of whom would be in the hunting
demographic, Feaser said.
There might be less hunting in Franklin County during the upcoming
deer season, but that might have more to do with herd management than a
decline in interest in the sport. A few years ago, the state was broken
up into a series of Wildlife Management Units (WMU), with each one
allotted so many antlerless deer licenses.
Anyone can get a buck license, but the number of antlerless deer
licenses, once known as "doe tags," is down this year, Franklin County
Treasurer Dave Secor said. The number of licenses allotted to the
county's portion of three WMUs is 12,400, down from 14,720 in 2006.
Since the licenses went on sale Aug. 6, demand has been brisk, Secor
said. The licenses for wildlife management units 4A and 4B have sold
out, leaving about 3,200 left for all of 5A, an area that includes parts
of Franklin, Adams, Cumberland and York counties.