Hunters who drive past voluntary game-check stations may be eroding their future hunting opportunity.
Washington and Idaho wildlife agency employees and sportsmen volunteers staff the stations on busy hunting season weekends to collect data useful in wildlife management and disease control.
Both states require hunters to file hunting reports from this season before they can purchase a hunting license for next season.
But check stations are another useful tool wildlife managers say they need.
“Check stations give us a chance to get observations directly from hunters during the season when things are fresh in their minds,” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle region wildlife manager.
Whether or not you bag an animal, stopping at a check station allows staffers to gather information such as the age of the animals and samples that might help state veterinarians detect diseases.
“The more knowledge we have about the condition of our big-game populations, the more opportunity we can offer our hunters,” said Dana Base, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist in Colville.
“We’re good resource stewards and if we don’t have the information we need, we’re going to act on the side of being conservative when it comes to setting the next year’s seasons and quotas. That could translate into lost opportunity.”
Hunters who stop at the stations often get information of interest about their animal and the area’s wildlife as well as details on hunting regulations.
Hunters aren’t asked for personal info about their hunting areas, Base said.
“We council our volunteers not to invade the privacy of hunters who stop at our stations,” he said.