The Sport Fish Restoration Program (SFR) has been a stable and highly successful funding program supporting state fisheries research, propagation, and management activities since its inception in 1950. The expanding sport of bowfishing in the past 2 decades, and research over a comparable time period showing very long lifespans of underappreciated native fish species, opens the door to some new ways to classify, manage, and fund monitoring of these natives under the SFR program, while encouraging sport and commercial take of invasives. Evidence from bowfishing and from changes in angling patterns for some nongame species indicates that the time has come to consider reclassifying underappreciated native species into some form of sport status (entirely separate from non-native invasives) and thereby potentially expanding the scope of species projects financed with SFR funds. Reclassification will also function to upgrade the status of underappreciated native species taken within agencies, with bowfishers and anglers, and with the public. It then opens the door to improved, and necessary, monitoring of inland commercial fisheries (often targeting the same species), an activity which has needed improvement and a reliable funding source for decades. We suggest that our approach is a comparatively straightforward one that is scientifically defensible and implementable within the existing state–federal management jurisdictions and institutions.
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Numerous state agency managers, including those not co-authoring this paper, provided valuable discussions, comments, criticisms, clarifications, and a diversity of state perspectives, including K. Cunningham (Oklahoma), K. Zipfel (West Virginia), J. N. Caudell (Indiana), D. Buckmeier (Texas), R. Zweifel (Ohio), and J. Hasz (Wisconsin). We also thank R. Curry of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish Restoration Program for information, and anonymous reviewers for their comments. There is no conflict of interest declared in this article.
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