By Dylan J. Darling

The Bulletin

Want to find a place to hunt or shoot? There’s an app for that

People looking for a place to hunt or shoot can now do so using an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife map on their smartphone or tablet.

The agency recently upgraded the Oregon hunting and shooting map to a responsive design, optimized for phones and tablets, said David Lane, statewide outreach and promotions coordinator for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Enhancing the map, first launched in 2010, is among the agency’s efforts to stem the decline in the percentage of residents purchasing hunting and fishing licenses in Oregon. To view the map, go to www.oregonhuntingmap.com.

Percentages of Oregon residents who hunt and fish are dropping, data from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows.

The trend started in the late 1970s and early-to-mid-1980s and continues today, said David Lane, statewide outreach and promotions coordinator for the agency. Over the years, he said, there has been plenty of research about why a smaller percentage of the state’s population pick up guns to hunt and rods to fish.

It all comes down to time, options and priorities.

“There is now a lot more competition for people’s time,” he said. “There are a lot of activities out there that people can choose to do.”

Decades ago, many Oregonians chose to hunt and fish. In 1975, 18.9 percent of Oregon’s 1.7 million residents ages 12 to 69 had a hunting license and 34.6 percent of the state’s 1.6 million residents age 14 to 69 had a fishing license. Data from 2013 show the figures down to 8.3 percent of Oregon’s 2.9 million residents age 12 to 69 had a hunting license and 17.4 percent of the state’s 2.8 million residents age 14 to 69 had fishing licenses.

“As a percentage of population, it has really shrunk,” he said.

The agency relies on people paying for hunting and fishing licenses to fund its operations, so the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been trying to increase the number of hunters and fishermen. By holding hands-on educational clinics, the department tries to answer the two biggest questions people have about hunting and fishing: “Where to go and how to do it,” Lane said.

The agency also teams up with hunting clubs and fishing groups to hold youth hunts and fishing events, trying to hook younger people on the sports.

“We recognize that if the family is participating together, then the likelihood of everyone continuing on with the activity is much greater,” Lane said. “… We’ll just try to continue what we are doing, provide people the opportunity to get out and learn. Just promote it as a way to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature.”

Still, the slide in the percentage of Oregonians buying hunting and fishing licenses continues.

While the state’s numbers show fewer people are buying fishing licenses in Oregon, said Gabe Parr, founder of the Bend Casting Club, it remains unclear whether that means fewer people are fishing.

He said some people may be fishing without licenses and not getting caught.

“It’s impossible for enforcement to get to every location and check that everyone has a license,” said Parr, who said he fishes with a license. The club is a program of Trout Unlimited, a national conservation organization focused on fisheries.

The hunting decline in Oregon could be the result of less access to good hunting grounds today, said Richard Nelson, past president of the Oregon Hunters Association Chapter in Bend. He said he feels that more recreation on public land, such as people driving motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, forces animals onto private ground. Hunters then have to pay the private landowners for the chance to hunt the animals.

“The average guy can’t do that,” Nelson said.

Like the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nelson said his group is trying to find ways to bring people back to the sport and start youngsters hunting.

“To keep it from further declining is really where we are at now,” Nelson said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812, ddarling@bendbulletin.com

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