At some point we’ve all been guilty of griping about all those out-of-state license plates in the parking area of our favorite public hunting area. Sure, it can sometimes be annoying, but all those visitors are also dropping much-needed dollars into local economies. But a precipitous decline in the number of out-of-state hunters visiting Maine is beginning to take its toll on everyone from state agencies to outfitters to mom-and-pop businesses.

From this story on
A significant decline in hunters coming to Maine from other states is having a far-reaching economic impact, from state agencies to small businesses in rural areas. While sales of hunting licenses rise nationally, the decline in Maine is causing a loss of revenue for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and income for sporting camps and hunting guides. It also is cutting into business in rural towns where traditional outdoor sports are an integral part of the culture and economy.

Sportsmen, guides, lawmakers and officials in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife point to the struggling deer herd as the reason for the drop in license sales.

According to the story, 9,000 fewer hunters visited Maine last year than five years ago, which translates into a $1.2 million loss in license fees alone–this in a state where non-resident hunters pump some $30 million into state and local coffers. So is this just a symptom of issues with Maine’s deer herd, or is it a trend elsewhere?