Get your guns | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get your guns

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 6:35 AM

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Bucking a long state and national trend, Arkansas reported a small uptick in hunting licenses in the first half of the fiscal year, Joe Mosby reports. Numbers are not back to historic highs by any stretch and, as a percentage of population, the number continues to decline. About a quarter-million residents, less than 10 percent, have hunting licenses against a population of some 2.8 million in 2006 Census estimates.

Also, despite 10 years of fishing promotion from our previous governor (hey, does Beebe fish, or just golf?), fishing license numbers continue to decline. About 290,000.

Yes, this is a setup for another suggestion that the state Game and Fish Commission work harder to present wildlife in a context beyond hunting and fishing. That wouldn't harm hunters and anglers (might even help with revenue from other admirers of wildlife and the outdoors). It certainly would be good for the 80 to 90 percent that don't hunt or fish. Leslie Peacock, writing in The Observer this week about the new nature center in Little Rock (photo from statue outside):

But mostly, what Game and Fish spent $7 million on is advertising, to put forward the idea that hunting and fishing are the way to get the Nintendo generation out of the house and into the woods. That's not wrong — it's just narrow.

The Observer has been to game agency-built nature centers in Texas and Missouri. There, the references to nature aren't obligatory. Missouri centers do owl prowls, frog walks, feature exhibits on native plants and invasive species, talk about water and wetlands and geology. Texas has the Great Coastal Birding Trail and wildlife viewing trails all over. Texas does butterflies and bats. These states know that more people own binoculars than guns, and they're capitalizing on that.

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