Plummeting DEC license sales tell a sad tale

This is from the "figures don't lie" department in this case, the department is the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, and the figures are the annual hunting, fishing and trapping license sales since 2002. Simply put, those figures have been declining, and the question begging to be asked is why, and what can be done? It would be easy to lay the blame on the fact that fewer New Yorkers are hunting, especially younger residents. But how would one account for the fact that fishing license sales have also been steadily declining?

During the 2002-03 license year, 2,033,341 licenses were sold for a total fee income to the state of $43M. Just three years later 1,822,104 were sold, totaling less than $40M. And so far for the 2006-07 license year, which began on Oct. 1, 2006, the total license sales are lagging even more, only about 1.4 million having been sold as of the end of January. Ironically, trapping license sales were the only ones to increase, jumping from around 11,000 in '02 to almost 13,000 so far this year.

Now, $43M is a decent chunk of money, even in this age where government talks in billions or even trillions of dollars. The revenue from license sales is also supplemented by the special sales taxes placed on some sporting equipment, such as firearms, ammo and fishing gear. The federal government also gives annual funds to states based on the state's total license sales each year. Added to the license and tax income, it helps keep New York's Conservation Fund and projects going. The drop of over $3M in the past three years is significant, but not as telling as the drop in license sales that has occurred across the board during that span.

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