By Rich Landers

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)

Fines and incentives have boosted hunter compliance with mandatory reporting programs to help states manage game populations, but a good share of hunters still don’t voluntarily help the cause.

By reporting their hunting experience by phone or online, hunters help wildlife biologists set seasons and harvest quotas for future years.

The requirement applies to hunters whether they were successful or not, or even if they didn’t get out to hunt.

In Oregon, nearly 34,000 hunters still face a $25 penalty for failing to tell the state how they did in their 2012 deer and elk hunts.

The state has been trying since 2007 to get the hunter reports to build better statistics on hunting success and harvest rates, which are used to set the numbers of deer and elk tags.

Fewer than 40 percent of hunters reported results when there were no penalties or when incentives were offered. That’s not enough for sound data, biologists say.

In 2012, the state adopted the $25 penalty, and the reporting rate jumped to 85 percent.

That still leaves a lot of hunters facing the extra charge when they buy their licenses the next year. The holders of about 29,000 deer tags and 17,000 elk tags didn’t report, out of 298,000 deer and elk tags sold. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department would collect $840,000 in late fees if all the hunters, who didn’t report, paid up.

“But I wish we didn’t get a dime,” Ron Anglin, administrator of the Wildlife Division, said in an Associated Press story. “I wish people just reported.”