Iowa saw a drop in hunting and fishing licenses sold in the past five years, but officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources expect a rebound in both categories. Kevin Baskins, a D.N.R. spokesman, says the number of fishing licenses sold since 2007 fell by more than 13,000.
Baskins says that’s not a big concern as the numbers for this year should be much more robust. “We would anticipate the fishing licenses will be up by a pretty good number,” Baskins says. “A lot of people bought fishing licenses this year, they bought early because of the unseasonably warm spring and I think we’ll see a healthy rebound in fishing license sales.”
Iowa sold some 310,000 fishing licenses in 2007, but the number last year fell to 297,000, a slip of over 4%. Hunting licenses fell by an even greater number over the same five-year period, dropping from 184,000 to 160,000. That’s a 13% drop.
In that category, Baskins says there will be a bounce-back, just like in fishing. Baskins says, “With the second season of dove hunting coming on and some rebounds in the pheasant numbers, we’ll see an uptick on hunting licenses as well.” He says some of the lower numbers are due to the weather while others are simply the cyclical nature of interest in hunting and fishing.
While this year’s drought has been terrible for farmers, when compared to last year, Baskins says it’s a big improvement in terms of being fishing-friendly. “We had some significant flooding last year and in previous years and that can definitely impact how many people we have going out fishing,” Baskins says.
“With the better weather we experienced this year, we do look to see an increase in that.” Pheasant numbers fell in Iowa with recent harsh winters and the loss of habitat and the number of hunting licenses fell in kind. “There’s been no question that we’ve had some challenges when it comes to pheasants which is usually our number-one hunting activity in Iowa,” he says.
Only around 109,000 pheasants were harvested in Iowa in 2011, the fewest since record-keeping began in 1962. The 2012 pheasant hunting season will open October 27.