March 23, 2020

Arkansas’s Answer to Social Distancing – Free Fishing Licenses

Article Contact: Chris Horton,

Contact: Chris Horton, Fisheries Policy and Midwestern States Senior Director

While some states are closing state-owned wildlife management areas and boat ramps due to COVID-19 concerns, others are promoting hunting and fishing as a way to practice social distancing in a rewarding setting while enjoying our outdoor heritage. On March 19, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) approved a waiver for all fishing license and trout permit requirements beginning March 21, and ending at midnight on March 29.

“Anglers have always practiced a type of ‘social distancing’,” said AGFC Director Pat Fitts. “We just call it ‘going fishing.’ Being outdoors in the fresh air is healthy and it’s the perfect remedy for cabin fever and the restlessness that may come from being cooped up at home. I encourage everyone to look at the current situation as a time to reconnect with nature instead of locking themselves inside. Now is a great time to get outside and build some lasting fishing memories.”

In a press conference on March 19, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Governor Asa Hutchinson encouraged Arkansans to, “enjoy walking, hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities consistent with social distancing.” 

With daily lives interrupted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, now is the perfect opportunity for parents and kids to reconnect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors through activities like fishing and turkey hunting while doing their part in preventing further spread of the disease.

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?

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