By Zach Widner, Northwest States Senior Manager
On April 6, Alaska House Bill 260, legislation that would allow sportsmen and women to carry electronic conservation licenses into the field, passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee and was sent to the House Finance Committee. The bill had previously passed out of the House Special Committee on Fisheries with strong support on February 28.
Sponsored by Alaska Legislative Outdoor Heritage Caucus Member Representative Dan Saddler, HB 260 would allow hunters, anglers, and trappers to carry electronic copies of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses in place of traditional hardcopy licenses.
A statement from the office of Representative Saddler notes, it is not uncommon for hardcopy licenses to become damaged by water and extreme weather conditions while in the field. Alaska currently allows for the digital purchase of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses, making digital copies of these items a logical next step. Benefits associated with digital licenses include making it easier and more convenient for hunters, anglers, and trappers to obtain and carry required licenses, improved compliance with state fish and wildlife management laws, and making it easier for enforcement officials to verify that users are legal. The bill would also still allow users to continue to carry hardcopies of their licenses if they so choose.
Currently, approximately 20 states allow license holders to carry electronic hunting and/or fishing licenses. Several states have created smartphone apps that allow users to easily download and display licenses, some of which allow hunters harvesting fish and/or wildlife to record and report the harvest to their state’s fish and wildlife agency in real time.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?