Wildlife Commission Reviews Findings From Latest Game Harvest Survey

Wildlife Commission Reviews Findings From Latest Game Harvest Survey

Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioners reviewed some findings from last year’s Game Harvest Survey of active hunters as part of their regular December meeting held Monday in Oklahoma City.

Overall, six out of 10 license holders surveyed said they participated in one or more hunting seasons during 2017. Hunting participation has shown a declining trend since 1991, when 78 percent said they hunted.

Survey coordinator Corey Jager said the annual Game Harvest Survey is a long-term evaluation tool with more than 30 years of data collected. It is used to monitor upland game harvest and hunters’ opinions to help biologists and wildlife managers make informed decisions.

She pointed out some of the interesting findings:

  • Among the active hunters surveyed, 36 percent said they used public land during 2017.
  • The practice of buying land for public hunting access continued to show strong support, with more than three out of four respondents favoring land purchases by the Wildlife Department.
  • For the second time, the survey asked about pursuit of feral swine. Responses indicated 27.4 percent of active hunters participated in that activity in 2017, up from 23.8 percent in 2016.
  • Among deer hunters, harvesting an animal was not among the top three motivations for participating in deer seasons. Rated as the most important reasons were being outdoors in nature, getting away to relax, and spending time with family or friends.

Jager said the Department is gearing up for the 2018 Game Harvest Survey, which will get underway in early 2019. For the full report on the latest survey, go to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/research.

Also, Commissioners accepted a donation of $2,119.50 from the Oklahoma Striped Bass Association (OSBA) to support the Wildlife Department’s hybrid striped bass, striper and white bass management activities. Fisheries Biologist Ashley Nealis presented a program outlining how OSBA’s support has generated about $100,000 over about 14 years to fund equipment and activities that have significantly helped improve the resource.

OSBA members David Langford, Ed Wampler and Jerry Sikes also presented a plaque of appreciation to Barry Bolton, Chief of the Fisheries Division.

Also during the Commission meeting, Laura McIver and James Dietsch of Oklahoma Quail Forever presented a unique metal artwork representing the Stars & Stripes License Project to Alan Peoples, Chief of the Wildlife Division, and Assistant Director Melinda Streich.

The artwork was created as an auction item for the Central Oklahoma 89’er Chapter of QF to bring awareness and generate donations for the Wildlife Department’s Stars & Stripes Project, a donor-funded program that gives hunting and fishing licenses to military veterans and select survivors of veterans who gave their lives in service to the country.

The artwork has now become a traveling auction item at QF chapter banquets across the state, where winning bidders will then re-sell the artwork to others, and all proceeds are being donated to the Stars & Stripes Project.

In other business, Commissioners:

  • Recognized Clint Carpenter, Game Warden based in Custer County, for 20 years of service.
  • Recognized Game Warden Jay Harvey, based in Atoka County, as he was honored as 2018 Wildlife Officer of the Year by Shikar-Safari Club International’s Raegen Siegfried and Suzie Brewster.
  • Recognized Wildlife Biologist Melinda Hickman for her selection as the 2018 Wildlife Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
  • Heard a progress report from Dave Case of D.J. Case and Associates regarding the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Strategic Plan that is under development.
  • Received an update on a comprehensive license study being conducted by Southwick Associates.
  • Emerged from executive session and voted to approve pursuing the purchase of real properties in Garfield, Tillman and McCurtain Counties.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting will be 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, at the Department headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City.

Gathered for a donation from the Oklahoma Striped Bass Association are, from left, Wildlife Department Fisheries Biologist Ashley Nealis, Ed Wampler of OSBA, Department Fisheries Chief Barry Bolton, David Langford of OSBA, Jerry Sikes of OSBA, and Department Director J.D. Strong. (Don P. Brown/ODWC)