RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- For the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, about 267,000 hunting licenses have been certified each year in the last five years, including a three-percent decline in the last year.
This is down from the nearly 340,000 licenses that were issued annually about 25 years ago.
Now the department is looking to increase its conservation funding through its “refer a friend” campaign.
According to a release, hunters in Virginia are the original conservationists, along with those who fish, and they play a significant role in supporting DGIF's mission to conserve fish, wildlife and their habitats.
Each license that is purchased helps to fund efforts to provide healthy and sustainable fish and wildlife resources in Virginia as well as increasing opportunities to enjoy them.
“Because of this, it is important that DGIF recruit as many outdoor enthusiasts as possible,” said DGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan. “DGIF is the first state wildlife agency in the country to offer such a referral program, with the goal this fall of encouraging existing hunters to recruit new individuals into hunting. This new promotion is also part of DGIF's new R3 Plan, which stands for Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation, and outlines several strategic efforts to increase people's participation in the outdoors.”
The release says this campaign is set up to encourage hunters to recruit their friends, family or anyone they know into hunting.
“Hunting is an outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by all people but learning to hunt for the first time or starting to hunt again can be difficult for many reasons,” said DGIF R3 Coordinator Edward Herndon. “One of the biggest barriers for people who want to start hunting is knowing someone to go with who can be a mentor and teach them how to hunt safely and successfully. The Refer a Friend program was designed to help foster these connections in order to create enjoyable experiences among new and experienced outdoor enthusiasts.”
Refer a Friend rewards currently licensed hunters with special discounts from Green Top Hunting and Fishing online retail site when they refer a new hunter to buy their first Virginia license.
The release says both the current and new hunters will get an exclusive DGIF hat displaying the agency's deer stamp and they will be entered into a sweepstakes to win prizes, including a Yeti Cooler, a gift card for Bass Pro Shops, and a DGIF limited edition knife.
The program is now open to anyone with a current hunting license, and hunters need to login to their Go Outdoors Virginia account to generate and send their referral code.
The sweepstakes will end on Dec. 31.
For more information, click on the link in the Related Links box.