By Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-LargeToo often we hear from hunters who believe that they were sold hunts that the outfitter couldn't deliver because they oversold their quotas. We asked Editor-at-Large Mike Bodenchuk to look at how hunters can protect themselves from oversold quotas.
Harvest quotas are a common wildlife management tool across North America that are used to prevent overharvest, to manage for a specific age or size class, to distribute hunting pressure between residents and nonresidents and to ensure the outfitters a stable and predictable allowance so that they can book future clients.
Quotas are managed in various ways. In some areas, the harvest is limited to a specific size class of animal (a de facto quota), so restricting the number of hunters is unnecessary. For many years in western Canada a "full curl restriction" was effective in preventing the overharvest of Stone sheep, and outfitters were not placed on quotas. However, resident hunters complained that too much of the harvest was going to guided clients (virtually all nonresidents), so a quota system was put in place to allocate at least 60% of the allowable harvest to residents and only up to 40% for outfitted clients. Within that restriction, individual outfitters are given a quota that is valid for their specific area for a specific time frame (usually five years).
Quotas can also be managed by license or tag numbers. Landowner vouchers, which can be transferred to hunters and used to obtain licenses without going through the draw, are an example. The quota may be based on a population count (i.e., one alligator tag per 10 alligators observed in a survey), on acreage of habitat (one bull elk tag and two cow tags per 1,000 acres of habitat) or on a formula based on public-to-private land ratios. In some cases, such as Utah's cooperative wildlife management units and Colorado's Ranching for Wildlife program, public hunters may be allowed access in exchange for the private tags. Usually the license allows only one animal per hunter, but quota alligator tags are often allocated based on an allowable harvest, so one hunter can harvest more than one animal as long as tags are still available....