Even if you have ever found yourself outraged at the way state departments of natural resources allocate rare and in-demand hunting licenses – whether by charging an arm and a leg for them or by initiating a “no guarantees” lottery system – you still probably won’t find much to argue with as far as California’s policies are concerned. But will a hunting tags auction solve the issue?
On October 1, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it would allow nonprofit organizations from around the state to auction off hard-to-come-by hunting tags for fundraising purposes.
Yes, you heard that right: rather than nickel and diming the public for hunting licenses and saving all of the spoils for itself, the California government spreads the wealth and allows nonprofit organizations to advance their own missions by selling the tags. Currently, the application process is open for nonprofit organizations who are interested in auctioning big game hunting tags for next year’s 2014-15 season.
While California hunters can attain big game tags – which allow for the hunting of deer, elk, bear, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and wild pig – through a statewide fundraising drawing, the system still functions like other state hunting lottery where there is no guarantee of success. Hunters can enter the drawing as many times as they like, paying a small fee each time – this year, the charge was $5.97 per entry – but California is a big state, and big game tags are hard to get your hands on due to high levels of demand.
Hunters who have struggled with California’s lottery drawing system in the past often wish they could simply pay a little more in order to actually purchase a big game tag. However, purchasing such tags outright is only possible through the nonprofit organization auction program. And while many nonprofit organizations would undoubtedly be interested in selling a big game hunting tag to help further its own fundraising efforts, not every nonprofit is even able to get its hands on one of the in-demand license tags. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife traditionally keeps the application period short for interested nonprofit organizations – this year’s will only last until October 14 – and only distributes about a dozen tags each year.
Of course, considering the rarity of these big game tags, it’s no surprise that a lot of nonprofit organizations want in. Hunters from around the state tend to flock to nonprofit auction events for a chance to get their hands on the big hunting prize. Since only one of those winners can go home with the hunting tag in hand, other hunters tend to place bids on other auction items so that they don’t go home empty-handed. In other words, getting hunter attention is a way that nonprofit organizations can help boost their fundraising efforts in all sectors.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that proceeds from the hunting tags auction itself be returned to the government in order to facilitate beneficial wildlife programs. So ultimately, the money ends up back in the hands of the state anyway, but California at least seems to be trying to do some good with the high levels of hunting demand that exist within its borders.