Henry Parro has owned his hunting and fishing hotspot for decades. And he doesn't need to check his books to know the number of licenses he sells is down.
"Just in the time I have been here -- 30 years -- I have seen hunting fishing licenses decline. Some of the sorting firearms that we typically sell, sometimes they don't sell in certain years, so there are trends," Parro said.
His observation is right -- hunting in Vermont is at an all time low. In 2000, the total number of hunting licenses issued peaked at over 100,000. About a decade later that number was only 75,000. It's hurting state revenues.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department officials say hunting provides an economic boost when the state needs it -- after leaf peeping season and before ski season. In 2006 the sport generated almost $400 million. Only five years later, that number was down by a third.
"It does effect our bottom line and of course our services are always increasing. I think we are trying to make sure that Vermonters received the same kind of support from us they have in years past," said the Department's Susan Warner.
The number of out of state hunters has decreased by nearly 50 percent -- a lot of bucks the Fish and Wildlife Department aren't seeing.
"We have been looking at ways to try and bring in more people from out of state. We are working with the tourism department to see if there are ways we can partner with them to get the message out," Warner said.
Warner said that the decrease has a lot do to with an aging demographic. Parro said it is a change of culture. "More of the passion -- we could excite the youth the way I was excited 40 years ago to get up early," Parro said. "It was a whole culture if you will -- deer hunting just in my time 40 years ago. It was a holiday to experience deer hunting in Vermont."
New York is considering lowering the cost of hunting licenses -- matching the price tag in Vermont -- to lure more hunters there. But Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials said it won't affect the cost of a license here. They're just hoping the season of declining license sales ends soon.
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