Game Check Program -- a different perspective

Below are clips from AFOA's Capital Ideas newsletter related to the Game Check program, made mandatory for the 2016-2017 hunting seasons for reporting the harvest of deer and turkey.

(9/13) CONTRADICTING THE NUMBERS reported in a Tuscaloosa News article dated 3/7/13 and reported here in April, Corky Pugh, former head of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, wrote in the August 2013 issue of Great Days Outdoors: “A comparison of license certification numbers for Alabama hunters from 1985 through 2010 shows a loss of 35,760 licensed hunters from 293,907 to 258,148. overall general decline of over 12%.”

(10/13) “WE MUST PAY ATTENTION TO THE CREEP FACTOR IN PUBLIC POLICY — laws and regulations that unduly restrict hunters,” wrote Corky Pugh, former head of Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division in Great Days Outdoors, 9/13, “Shifts in public policy are driven” by “over-zealous bureaucrats, and some well-meaning folks who think that more rules and regulations are ‘good conservation.’” Quoted on Capital Ideas—Live!, 9/18/13, Senator Paul Sanford wrote to AFOA, “I am concerned that landowners that never needed a license to hunt on their own property are now tossed into a ... system that will eventually lead to more hunting regulations for such landowners. You and I both know Government never moves backwards once it encroaches upon something.” So Alabama law now requires you to carry a Harvest Record and pencil with you whenever you might shoot a deer or turkey on your land. The Harvest Record must be filled out before moving the animal. Then the new Game Check rules require you to report your kill to officials within 72 hours. May we suggest that these rules be nullified for private landowners?

(2/14) “WELL-[FOUNDED] RESEARCH has consistently shown that complex rules and regulations have a detrimental effect on hunting participation. Many hunters will choose to stay home rather than run the risk of violating the law… Alabama came to be a destination state for hunting because of our abundant game populations and easy-to-follow regulations.” The former Director of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Conservation Department, Corky Pugh, doesn’t have much good to say about the Division’s attempts to encourage hunters to record and report deer & turkey kill information with the mandatory Harvest Record and, currently, voluntary Game Check systems. “Any references to the need for more data are suspect at best. Wildlife management by its very nature is not a precise undertaking.” Source: Crack the Whip: The flurry of regulatory actions makes one’s head spin, Great Days Outdoors, 1/14.

(1/15) HUNTING PARTICIPATION IS FALLING IN ALABAMA, according to a survey done by Responsive Research. Alabama is the only southeastern state declining. Corky Pugh, Executive Director of the Hunting Heritage Foundation suggests the decline is fostered by “Narrow special interests” who “shove the masses of rank and file hunters out of the way.” Source: Great Days Outdoors, 12/14. Could the decrease in hunter numbers be the result of pro-regulatory climate at the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation? Why, in a state whose House, Senate and Governor’s office are led by conservative Republicans, would a state agency continue to add more and more regulations on hunters and landowners?