17 February 2012

State pheasant hunting in jeopardy

Copied directly from Connecticut Sportsman's Coalition email newsletter:
This issue impacts Every Sportsman! A question I've been asked is "What's Next - Hatcheries?" COMMUNICATE! Most won't know what you want unless you tell them! Many won't know the basics of the program unless you inform them. There will be no Public Hearing on this issue. DO IT NOW- Communicate as you did on the License Fee Reduction issue. Be polite.

In the Governor's Midterm Budget Adjustments under DEEP p.67, the following statement is found: "Reduce Funding for Sportsmen's Programs - Funding is eliminated for the pheasant stocking program $ - 160,000."

After convincing the Legislature in 2010 that a 100% license fee increase would severely impact license/tag/permit sales/recruitment reducing revenue to both the state and DEP, we are now faced with presenting similar arguments. Someone, OPM (Office of Policy and Management), the Governor's Office, or budgetary officials clearly don't understand the funding, economic impact, and detrimental effect on licensing/recruitment of this proposal. In the opinion of many, the Elimination of the Pheasant Program action is a uninformed budgetary rip-off that benefits neither the state or its citizens.

The Pheasant Stocking Program is Sportsmen funded and is self sustaining - NOTHING comes from the General Fund. Elimination of the program saves the state nothing and in the future reduces revenue to DEEP through reduced license sales, and to the state in terms of economic impact. The methodology is to count revenue generated from Pheasant Stamps ($28) and Small Game licenses ($19/$11 Junior) from those who purchased the stamps to get a total revenue. This number then determines the number of Pheasants that will be stocked in the following year. The $160,000 to be cut is the revenue generated last year and constitutes the stocking program for 2012.

Pheasant Hunting is a Gateway Activity for new hunters. Youngsters and some adults (particularly women) who have completed the mandatory Hunter Safety Course and purchased their Small Game License (mandatory for All hunting) look for a hunting activity. Hunting on state Pheasant Program stocked lands is the least expensive and a traditional family activity for new hunters. Other species available in the past have been Rabbits, Grouse, and Woodcock, but are no longer due to state lack of funding for habitat management. The Pheasant Program is THE new hunter entry vehicle and is used as such in DEEP Junior Hunting Training Day to increase hunting participation.

The economic impact of eliminating Pheasant Hunting is substantial. ALL Resident hunters averaged 12.2 trips and nonresidents 3.0 trips in Connecticut. Pheasant hunters number 4000-5000. Based on 2010 hunting licensees, resident hunters undertook 770.0 thousand trips and nonresident hunters 9.8 thousand. Total Hunting expenditures in Connecticut are impressive at $109.3 million in 2010 dollars. http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/outdoor_recreation/2011economicimpactstudy.pdf Table 3.2.3. Using a few of the most common costs (in 1,000s $): Food and Lodging 2,801.5; Hunting Equipment 29,266.3; Transportation 5,365.5, with approximately 60,000 hunters in the state and dividing the totals by 4-5000, economic loss to retail sales is substantial.

It is imperative you write, call, e-mail your state Senator and Representative and all the members of the Appropriations Committee expressing your position. E-mail addresses for the complete Appropriations Committee can be found at http://www.ctsportsmen.com Under "Legislation". To find your legislators with their addresses, tel numbers, etc. go to "How to Find Your Legislators" on the Legislative page. Contact Gov. Malloy "Share Your Opinion" http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?a=3998&q=479088 . Contact the Commissioner DEEP Dan Esty (860) 424-3001 and Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette (860) 424-3005.

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