By Zach Widner, Northwest States Senior Manager
On May 4, Alaska House Bill 260, legislation that would allow sportsmen and women to carry electronic conservation licenses into the field, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate, where it was subsequently referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
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.
As noted in a statement from the office of Rep. Saddler, 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 a logical next step.
Benefits of 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. Users would still be allowed to continue to carry hardcopies of their licenses if they choose.
Approximately 20 states currently 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 even provide hunters the opportunity to record and report their harvest to the state 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?