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06

A recent South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks report shows that the number of hunting licenses being sold to youths has declined. The trend that has occurred over the past decade, shows that there has been no increase in the number of licenses sold for over 10 years.

The report looked at the number of licenses sold to youths aged between 12 and 17. Last year’s small-game and youth combination license sales were significantly reduced compared to recent years.

There are a number of reasons why those who have a vested interest in the pheasant hunting industry should be concerned.

Firstly, a significant part of the GF&P’s funds for operations and land and wildlife management is generated by the sale of licenses. A decline in license sales means that the GF&P has to find new sources of funds or face cutting vital projects that are desperately needed to support the pheasant population and habitat.

If the GF&P does want to maintain projects, and it most likely does, then it might need to consider increasing license costs and fees.

In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the department spent £33 million in South Dakota improving habitat, wildlife projects and management of resources. If the GF&P were to have less funds to spend on these important areas, many of those that do enjoy pheasant hunting may find their experiences are hampered by the lack of management to support the sport.

Also, if less youths are enjoying hunting, then current hunters are not passing down their memories or creating new ones with their youngsters. This is very sad. These moments can be cherished for many years and it is often the case that hunters are introduced to the sport via their family.

Thirdly, less youth licenses mean stockists of hunting gear will be affected. South Dakota’s hunting industry is worth up to $200 million. But if the next generation aren’t hunting now, they are unlikely to do so in the future, which threatens this vital part of the state economy.

What needs to happen is that youth are introduced to the sport early, get hooked and then look forward to the annual hunting season.

How can you help introduce the next generation to pheasant hunting? What are your recommendations?

Let us know in the comments below.


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