Beeland to host Game Check seminar July 21

Published 4:56 pm Friday, July 8, 2016

After three years of insufficient reporting into the voluntary Game Check program, Alabama’s Conservation Advisory Board has recommended mandatory reporting of deer and turkey harvests via the Game Check system starting with the 2016-17 hunting season.

To educate hunters in Alabama about the Game Check harvesting system, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries is holding seminars about the program throughout the state this summer.

WFF Director Chuck Sykes will host the seminars, which include an overview of the program followed by a question and answer session. All hunters are encouraged to attend one of these in advance of hunting season.

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Topics to be covered:

• How to check your game.

• Why the data is important.

• What it means to you, the hunter.

• Changes to the upcoming hunting season.

More than 20 public seminars are planned across the state, including one in Greenville on Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m. at Beeland Recreation Center located at 1016 East Commerce Street.

“We need people to come out and understand what Game Check is and why we’re doing it,” Sykes said. “The Conservation Advisory Board passed Game Check unanimously. The Department (Conservation and Natural Resources) understands there is going to be a learning curve. That is why we’re doing these seminars all over the state. There will be at least three seminars a week throughout the summer somewhere in the state.

“My goal is to let our hunters know why we need Game Check. But just as important, I’m showing them the way to do it. I’m walking through, step-by-step, the quickest and easiest way to use Game Check to report your harvest. I’m also talking about other rules and regulations and answering any questions people have.”

Alabama is one of only three states without a mandatory data collection system.

The Game Check system was first implemented three years ago on a voluntary basis, though the number of hunters who reported their harvest via the Game Check system was less than 5 percent during that time frame.

“We tried voluntary reporting for three years and it didn’t work,” Sykes said. “There were 19,000 deer reported in 2013 and only 15,000 last year.”

Estimates from sampling and mail surveys indicate about 300,000 deer are harvested annually in Alabama.

“That’s our guess,” Sykes said of the harvest estimate. “We need to know. It’s too important an industry to the state ($1.8 billion economic impact), and it’s too important to the way of life to many people, including me, for us to base everything on a guess.”

Sykes also added that, contrary to rumors spread about the program, there is nothing nefarious regarding the new data being collected from hunters.  On the contrary, the information could prove beneficial to hunters in the future.

“At the meetings we’ve had so far, people want to know how to do it and what we’re going to use the information for,” he said. “Some people are under the impression that if they give us the data that we’re going to take something away from them. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. If we find we have more deer than we think, if we’re not killing as many as we think, we possibly can give them more hunting opportunities.”


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