Outdoor notes: Unregistered fishing guides garner commission's attention
Fishing guides have to be registered in Pennsylvania. That's the rule.
Not everyone's been abiding by it, though.
So, this past year, law enforcement officers with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission got involved. They made a point of going after those operating outside the law.
Twenty-six un-permitted guides were discovered. Many didn't have a current guiding permit. What's more, they'd never had one at all, said Tom Burrell, of the commission's bureau of law enforcement.
Twenty-one of those guides were prosecuted. Five were given warnings because of a technicality of sorts.
"Most of them were long-time guides who were not caught on the water. They were caught running a guide service or advertising a guide service," Burrell said.
Two Fish and Boat Commissioners applauded that work. They pointed out there are other fans, too.
One, Len Lichvar of Somerset County, said the issue was brought to the agency's attention by guides abiding by the rules.
"I can tell you that, among those guys I've talked to, they are aware of the additional enforcement and what you've done out there. And they appreciate it," Lichvar said.
Commissioner Ed Mascharka of Erie County said the guides operating in his area do as well.
"They said I should give you guys a thumbs up over what's happened in the last six to 12 months," Mascharka said.
The total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the United States increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $51.4 billion in 2017. That's a 169 percent increase.
Those figures come from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It's the group representing the firearms industry.
The NSSF also reported that the total number of full-time equivalent jobs rose from approximately 166,000 to almost 310,000, an 87 percent increase, during that time.
On a year-over-year basis, the industry's economic impact rose from $51.3 billion in 2016 to $51.4 in 2017, "ticking higher even while the industry came off-peak production years." Total jobs increased from approximately 301,000 to almost 311,000, a 3 percent increase in the same period.
"Our industry is proud to be one of the truly bright spots in our economy as an unprecedented number of Americans have chosen to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms and to safely enjoy the shooting sports," said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF President and CEO.
He noted the industry has, since 2008, increased federal tax payments by 144 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 104 percent and state business taxes by 121 percent.
Here's an unusual idea under consideration for keeping new hunters interested in the sport.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is considering a proposal, put forward by a "becoming an Outdoors Woman" workshop instructor, to guarantee first-time hunters a license.
In South Dakota, a limited number of deer licenses are issued each year. Not every hunter who applies gets one. Applications are due months before the season opens, too.
Janet Loux, the instructor, thinks it might make sense to make exceptions in the case of newly minted hunters. She's suggesting creating a new license for first-time deer hunters, similar to the one that lets children younger than 18 take an antlerless deer anywhere in the state.
Newcomers would be eligible only in the year they took their hunter safety course and could not have previously held a license. They would need to be accompanied by a mentor, too.
State wildlife officials have put her idea out for public comment.
Erie creel limits
The Fish and Boat Commission recently announced something else: creel limits for Lake Erie yellow perch and walleye.
The limit is 30 a day for perch, six a day for walleyes. Those are the same limits as last season.
"The 2017 assessment showed that both yellow perch and walleye populations remain at maintenance levels," said Chuck Murray, the commission's Lake Erie biologist. "Based on this, the 2018 creel limits are being held at the 2017 limits."