Contact: Clay Chester, Southeastern States Coordinator
As the nation continues to adjust to social distancing requirements, some state fish and wildlife agencies are providing alternatives to hunter education course requirements while other states are easing access restrictions for anglers that were imposed due to COVID-19.
These waivers and revisions allow sportsmen and women to participate in hunting and fishing activities as long as the necessary social distancing requirements are maintained. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and conservation partners are promoting the #ResponsibleRecreation social media campaign that encourages people to hunt and fish while adhering to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. In a related effort, CSF and other members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners sent a letter to governors to encourage them to maintain open access for hunters and anglers.
The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources altered the range day requirement for their internet-based hunter’s education course. In response to the COVID-related restrictions, a “virtual range day” has been instituted for those wanting to complete the hunter education course prior to May 15. A few different vendors offer an online hunter education course, including one that offers the course for free. Interested individuals can access the courses and the virtual range day here.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) waived the field day component for their hunter education course for individuals who want to purchase their hunting license during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WRC offers three online hunter education courses, ranging from $13.00 to $29.00, as an alternative to the traditional classroom course. Upon successful completion, the hunter can print the temporary hunter education card to purchase their license. Those interested in this convenient alternative can access the online course offerings here.
In an effort to ease restrictions for anglers in Mississippi, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Tate Reeves issued Executive Order 1473, which allows the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) to reopen state lakes and state park lakes for fishing and boating on April 20. The MDWFP announced that bank fishing will also be permitted on these lakes as long as social distancing requirements are observed.
In similar fashion, Governor Henry McMaster granted authority to local governments or managing authorities to reopen public boat landings and ramps for launching and retrieving boats on April 17. Executive Order 2020-25 also clarified that while public access may be reopened for lakes, the rafting or beaching of boats is still prohibited for the duration of the State of Emergency.
With turkey seasons and fishing seasons underway across the South, CSF commends these efforts to ease restrictions for hunters and anglers during this 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?