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Sportsmen Get Some ‘Unpheasant’ News About Budget

by Hugh McQuaid | Mar 2, 2012 12:30pm
(18) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Environment, Labor, State Capitol

Courtesy of Wikipedia The elimination of funding for the state pheasant stocking program has feathers ruffled and sportsmen crying fowl.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed 2013 budget calls for cutting the $160,000 used to stock state land with pheasants for hunters.

The recommended cut, part of the midterm budget adjustments, aimed at keeping the budget in the black for the second half of the biennium. Ben Barnes, the governor’s budget director, said Thursday that reductions had to be made and state government won’t come to a screeching halt without pheasants.

“We’ve made reductions to programs we thought were least critical to central government functions,” Barnes said.

But since the birds aren’t indigenous to Connecticut, the sport will all but disappear for hunters that don’t frequent hunting preserves where small game is privately stocked. And they’ve been letting lawmakers know about it. Legislative email boxes have been flooded with complaints.

“It ain’t right,” Hebron pheasant hunter Willy Columbe said. “I’ve been hunting pheasants in Connecticut since I was 16 and I’m going to be 70 this July.”

Columbe said in the past he’s enjoyed hunting the birds on state property like Mansfield Hollow but said he and other old-timers feel the state’s been doing a “lousy job” in recent years. Cutting it all together isn’t fair, he said.

According to the Moodus Sportemen’s Club blog, “Pheasant Hunting is a Gateway Activity for new hunters.”

Rep. Craig Miner, R- Litchfield, said as one of the leaders of the legislative Sportsmen Caucus, he’s heard from more than just constituents on the issue.

He said he and other members of the caucus have penned a letter to the Appropriations Committee saying squashing the sport is counter to the goal of getting people to appreciate the state’s resources.

“It’s detrimental to the economic forecast in terms of highlighting value of Connecticut,” Miner said.

According to a recent study by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis all hunting in the state generates about $100 million a year in economic activity.

Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R- Stafford, said he’s also been contacted by residents. He agreed with Miner’s assessment.

“You’re going to lose a whole group of people who are interested in the environment and care about keeping the forests pristine,” he said.

Guglielmo suggested hunters may be willing to tolerate an increase in the price of permits and tags if it meant the program stayed.

Columbe didn’t think so. The state has raised cost of permits for pheasant hunting enough over the years, he said.

“They shouldn’t go up no more than they went up already,” he said. “The state’s dishing out money right and left to everyone else and they are screwing the poor bastards.”

While it’s a $160,000 program, about $120,000 comes back to the state through hunters’ permitting fees. The fees collected one year are used to purchase birds for the next hunting season.

But Barnes said the entire initial expenditure must be factored against the spending cap which does not consider net impact. The state is only $5.9 million away from the cap for fiscal year 2013.

Told of Barnes’ suggestion that the cut was driven over concern for the spending cap, Miner was unconvinced.

“That’s an insult to my intelligence,” he said. “I could point to many, many, many expenditures that could be equally debated. Why chose this one?”

Barnes said the point was a fair one but said the state is considering painful cuts in many areas and the pheasants just didn’t seem like a high priority.

“I think that the number of people who benefit from this program is quite small,” he said. “It’s much harder for me to justify in my own mind, cuts that we’ve made to other programs like arts organizations, than it is to justify cuts to this program.”

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(18) Comments

posted by: Palin Smith | March 2, 2012  2:21pm

Isn’t hunting about finding the prey? What fun is it if the government provides hunter welfare?

posted by: Santa | March 2, 2012  5:59pm

Starting to make the Jailbird and the Queen look better every day!

posted by: Reasonable | March 2, 2012  9:51pm

Ben Barnes obvioualy—does not hunt pheasants, but what’s good for the goose, may not always be good for the gander.

posted by: johnnyb | March 3, 2012  2:30am

The local hunting clubs can and do provide for pheasant hunting. The nonsense about losing people who care about pristene forests is Guglielmo trying to make himself look good. It’s high time this farce on state property ended.

posted by: Lenny Benedetto | March 3, 2012  8:55am

This is NOT government provided hunter welfare?

The stocked birds have been paid for through LAST YEARS tag fees! Pheasants are unfortunately not native to CT anymore. So they must be stocked since they will not repopulate in this state.

Since the birds for this year have already been paid for, it looks like our Government will be STEALING these funds for other things…..I SAY B.S.

posted by: apnam69 | March 3, 2012  12:13pm

Is hunter welfare illegals getting free food stamps and health care while we the middle class taxpayer pay and pay. $120,000 we pay for pheasant stamps not counting what we pay for a small game license. Why don’t you give another $5 million to espn and NBC $2 million JohnnyB and Palin Smith. Thats political welfare!

posted by: Reasonable | March 3, 2012  3:40pm

apnam69:  It’s all undeniably—“political welfare.”  What else is new?

posted by: Huntingirl | March 3, 2012  9:04pm

Hunters pay for the pheasant program through fees.  For the amount of revenue generated the 40k gap is tiny.  It does seem punitive that the pheasant program is targeted to be cut every few years, all because people have a preconceived notion about hunting.  When I go hunting I meet a huge cross section of our society: professionals,  college professors, firefighters, retirees, factory employees, students and other Moms like myself. We have beautiful public land in this state.  I have friends who purchase expensive out of state licenses and come up from NY or down from MA to hunt.  CT has a very good stocking program compared to other states in the North East.  It would be a shame to lose it. Oh and btw, when I meet friends to hunt, mostly mid week, we always stop for a bite to eat, and put gas in our cars.  Again, it is great program, run really well, beautiful state lands, it would be a great loss if it is cut.

posted by: Reasonable | March 4, 2012  12:40pm

“The ‘unpleasant-pheasant side’ of the fruits of Malloyism.”

posted by: Mr. Romney | March 4, 2012  1:05pm

It is an outrage that this Democratic Ct Gov. is preventing tax paying residents from being able to hunt peasants. Everyone knows that a wealthy state like Connecticut has to import peasants because they have none of their own. What’s that? Pheasants? You mean the birds? Oh. Never mind.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | March 5, 2012  3:14pm

Another ridiculous, short sighted move.  REgardless of your’re personall views on hunting the pheasant stocking program generates a lot of money for the state of Connecticut, the $120,000 generated by pheasant stamps is a drop in the bucket, add to that the money shelled out for small game licenses.  IN 2010 there were 4680 pheasant stamps purchased equaling $139,000.  Add to that the intial cost of a hunting license, at $19 for each of the hunters purchasing pheasant tags, or $88,920 for a total of $227,920 dollars generating in 2010 JUST IN LICENSE AND TAGS, A PROFIT OF $67,920 for the Connecticut.  A PROFIT!  THEY WANT TO CUT A PROGRAM THAT MAKES MONEY!!!!!!  Add to that the tax revenues for ammunition, dog supplies, firearm and clothing sales, gas to get to the pheasants, and this program is a major win for the State.  Alsom mdue to the PIttman_Robertson ACt a good deal of this revenue is used to secure the environment and animals for future generations.

The citizens of CT should be appalled at the way the Malloy administration conducts business, the shortsightedness and mismanagement is represhensible. 

Is it smart, in this economic climate, to cut a State program that TURNS A PROFIT??????

posted by: ... | March 5, 2012  4:39pm

...

DEEP has some good history on the pheasant in CT. So this might be some relevant information for hunters and those in favor of the funding (can be fully by searching up ‘connecticut pheasant population’ in Google):

“In the early 1900s, Connecticut began introducing ring-necked pheasants with the hope that they would reproduce in the wild and be a “buffer” for native populations of grouse and quail which had declined as a result of habitat loss and subsistence
hunting.”

So in essence, those naturally living breeds of game native to CT were wiped out from over hunting and our own progress as a society (which damaged their habitats). And we are forced to restock the program because we kill to many that try to live in the wild to continue a sustainable population. So to put it simply: We’re funding a program that will never be capable of becoming a self-sustaining and environmentally viable in today’s hunting society.

That leaves hunters with limited choices at this point in the progress of cuts.

1) we could/should stop importing and restocking an non-native population of game, and provide our hunters with a native birds like the grouse by allowing open, unused spaces to be reintroduced as forestry for the grouse, as well as provide insight into allowing quail to repopulate statewide as they did in the past.

2) Private entities expand availability to quail hunting in CT. Another common sense understanding: If there is a large enough interest and willingness to invest capital, private hunting clubs could expand membership, and thus expand their private restocking efforts.

If it were up to me, I’d pick the former and try to create a cheap, abundant population for hunting and general wildlife preservation that is more fitting to our state’s historical environment.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | March 5, 2012  8:59pm

From Connecticut’s DEEP website, the number’s don’t lie….this is an ignorant move by Malloy:

In Connecticut, sportsmen’s hunting and fishing licenses, permit fees and excise taxes on equipment contribute $6.3 million annually to the conservation and management of our fisheries and wildlife resources,” said DEP Commissioner McCarthy.

Sportsmen-financed programs have led to the dramatic comeback of many fish and wildlife species and have also been instrumental in the protection and management of wildlife habitat. In Connecticut, approximately 8,000 acres of land have been acquired using Pittman-Robertson (PR) funds. The PR program also supports staff and operations to manage the 88 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) comprising some 25,500 acres scattered throughout Connecticut. These WMAs provide opportunities for citizens to view wildlife, hike, fish and hunt.

“Programs financed by hunters and anglers have been directly responsible for restoring populations of many species, including the wild turkey and striped bass,” said DEP Commissioner McCarthy. Sportsmen-funded programs have also supported white-tailed deer and game bird management, enhanced fluke and scup in Long Island Sound, and established northern pike, trout and walleye in many of our lakes and streams.

“Through carefully planned research, management, and habitat protection, we have been able to ensure that the public has an opportunity to enjoy wildlife in Connecticut,” said DEP Commissioner McCarthy. “It is important that we recognize the outstanding contribution that hunters and anglers have made to this effort.”

posted by: USGuardian | March 5, 2012  10:02pm

Very typical of Government programs.  Tax the users, pile on the license fees etc, saying those fees will be used to stock their species of choice, then continue to increase those fees then stop providing the services they are paying for.

posted by: ... | March 5, 2012  10:56pm

...

soldoutbytheunion: Your first post makes good point about the viability of the program despite a link to the data provided. However your second iteration has nothing to do with the pheasant program. But you know what interests me more? The fact the minority leadership isn’t calling fowl on this. Only those legislators who have hunters in their district are calling to arms about it. That says a lot. I guess a final bit is the data from this link: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2700&q=394896&depnav_gid=1633

It shows that there is actually a trending decrease in the number of hunters in CT, despite a stock that has nearly doubles the population of pheasant hunters (and the price of the bird is continuously rising).

But alas, any cut to the state has its nimbys.

I would still opt for expanding private programs/lodges that promote this program and relieving the current regulations that are required for citizens to liberate pheasants on their own whims into CTs wildlife. That would put the program really in the hands of the hunters to promote and expand as their own.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | March 6, 2012  8:50pm

Steven Jones:  My second post was intended to point out that there is far more at stake in this than just the end of the stocking program.  The money that hunters spend in this state has far reaching positive effects on wildlife and the environment.  The number of hunters has fallen, all the more reason to keep this program alive.  Birds are more expensive….as is everything else.  The program still turns a profit and provides important Pittman-Robertson money to the state.

Private hunting preserves and clubs (one of which I am a member)is a partial solution, but not everyone can afford to join one.  Also, for many clubs (mine included) the access to land is increasingly restricted further limited areas that are hunted.  My club has lost 3 leased hunting properties over the past 5 years, all to housing developments.

posted by: Madravenspeak | March 8, 2012  1:40pm

Stocking a non-native pheasant for a small minority of killers is absurd.  Wildlife WATCHERS bring 10-40 times the revenue to state tax coffers as hunters do - and 3-10 times as much even if you count them running their murder business with their license monies.  All that money does is run the registration stations, licensing, staffing of the state killing facilitators and the lax wardens in the good ole boy kill our commons biz.  We, the wildlife watching majority want our wildlife protected, intact and playing their NATURAL role in ecosystems degraded by human bad policies.  We HONOR LIVING wildlife and respect the LIFE of our wild brethren.  So farming and stocking wildlife, destroying natural predators and raping out our “fur-bearers” (what a telling term) is NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE.  We are coming for our fair citizen rights - replace killing license funding of state agencies with the general public funds we bring through HELPING our wild brethren and do away with the killing license stranglehold on state agencies.  ORGANIZE to claim your rights now.

posted by: Madravenspeak | March 8, 2012  1:50pm

And then there are the Pittman Robertson funds of which 60% come from home protection and gun collectors, NOT hunters - but the hunting cartel have all have that money funneled into MORE killing of our commonwealth.  No grouse and no quail - why ?  Because “hunters” have destroyed them ALL.  They do not stop until all predators are hanging on their pathetic torture trophy walls.  I am so glad to see Connecticut cutting out these abominations of privatizing our commons for destruction.  Wisconsin is good proof of this idiocy.  They just passed laws to run DOGS on 800 WOLVES in a state of 5.6 million bad electors of ignorant representation and 3.4 million cattle for human predation, 1.2 million deer for human predation and the Serial Killers are using the excuse that a few packs of wolves “predated” on 85 cattle all last year to torture and kill an endangered species day and night for an annual season of 135 days - cruel to the dogs and cruel to all the human private property they will trespass.  ENTITLED they think they are.  NOT.  This attack on wolves across the country shows NO stewardship in the usual killers - they will kill until all wildlife are gone.  They have not even stopped the indiscriminate cruelty of trapping.  ORGANIZE!!!