TPWD News Release — Aug. 25, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas hunters need to make sure they are Harvest Information Program (HIP) certified before going hunting for dove, waterfowl or other migratory game birds this fall to avoid an unintentional game violation and possible citation. Specifically, hunters need to ask about HIP certification at the license sales counter, because some license clerks may not bring it up.
For several years, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help improve the quality of Texas HIP certification data that is used to qualify hunters for migratory bird harvest surveys, which some hunters may receive in the mail during the course of the coming hunting season. These surveys of dove and waterfowl hunters help the service and states determine the national harvest, and this information is used to set hunting season and bag limit regulations.
TPWD made a change in the electronic hunting and fishing license sales system this year, and this now means hunters should ask vendors for the HIP certification. Just as in recent years, hunters will answer a series of brief, simple questions about their recent game bird hunting activities to become HIP certified. There is no cost to license buyers for the certification.
"We have heard reports from some hunters that some license vendors are failing to ask if they want to be ‘HIP,’" said Vernon Bevill, TPWD small game program director. "It is the hunter’s responsibility to tell the clerk issuing their license that they want to answer the HIP questions and be certified."
Bevill went on to say, "The best time to get certified is when you buy the licenses and stamps you need. Tell the license clerk to be sure to ask you the HIP questions right then, and if you forget and remember later you should return to the same store, if convenient, and get certified. The HIP permit is free."
TPWD and the Service are working to improve the accuracy of all migratory game bird harvest surveys. Some hunters think the answers they give in the store is the survey, but HIP certification only places hunters into categories of high, medium or low harvest of dove, ducks or other migratory game birds. The information is collected at the state level and then sent to the Service so they can more accurately survey hunters in states like Texas. Each harvest category is surveyed at slightly different rates to gain the full estimate of dove, duck, and goose harvest.
"In prior years some license vendors would provide incorrect answers and certify hunters without them ever knowing they were certified," said Corey Mason, TPWD dove program leader. "This led to numerous problems with the Texas data, and we need to obtain better information because Texans harvest more dove and waterfowl than any other state in the Central Flyway. "
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