Then the agency decided to institute a “game check” system that would require hunters to report kills of deer and turkey to the state within 24 hours. After initial complaints, that was revised to 72 hours. And Friday, the conservation department commissioner announced that the program would rely on voluntary reporting “this first year” — a hint that reporting could be mandatory next year.
The state has a responsibility to manage populations of game animals in the state and, obviously, data is needed to do that effectively. Game checks, like those in use in 35 states, can be very helpful in fulfilling that mission. When state wildlife biologists can look at reliable reports about the number, size and sex of deer and turkeys killed around the state, the better they will understand the size and health of the wildlife population. From that information, better decisions can be made about where and how long hunting should be allowed, and whether limits on the number of animals taken should be imposed.
Hunters understand the importance of wildlife management in maintaining healthy game populations, and most appreciate their own roles helping with that mission.
In a press release about voluntary reporting, the DCNR lists the organizations that supported the Game Check program (National Wild Turkey Federation, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Buckmasters, Alabama Dog Hunters Association, Alabama Bow Hunters Association, Alabama Bass Trail, Alabama Black Belt Land Brokers Association, Alabama Deer Association and the ALFA Wildlife Board). But the fact that the decision was changed suggests a groundswell of resistance from hunters who were unaware of the proposed changes.
It’s commendable the DCNR is willing to listen to the concerns of the sportsmen who support the agency and to make adjustments to its policies. Perhaps the agency could be more proactive in the future to include the concerns of rank-and-file hunters and fishermen as policy changes are being considered.