F&G proposes fee hike and freeze for regulars

rphillips@idahostatesman.comJanuary 2, 2014 


Idaho Fish and Game is proposing fee increases of $1 to $6 on most resident hunting and fishing licenses and tags, but with a catch.

The state wildlife agency is also proposing a fee lock for Idahoans who consistently buy annual licenses and tags.

Under the proposed legislation, hunters and anglers could lock in the price of their hunting and fishing fees for the next three to five years if they buy licenses and tags annually, the agency said in a press release.

F&G officials are hoping hunters and anglers will like the idea of a fee lock, and they believe it will stabilize its funding.

Idaho resident license fees haven’t raised since 2005. At the same time, the cost of managing Idaho’s wildlife has increased with higher costs of fish food, gas, and more, F&G said.

Instead of calling for a traditional fee hike, F&G wants a two-part plan that it will present to the Legislature, which must approve any fee increase for the agency.

Part one seeks authority for the Fish and Game Commission to discount license and tag fees.

The second seeks to raise fees on most resident licenses, tags and fees.

If approved, hunters and anglers who buy every year would pay the same as 2013. Skip a year and you pay the higher price.

If the fee lock is approved, the commission would review it in three to five years and decide whether to continue it.

The fee hike would not apply to nonresidents, whose fees were raised in 2009. That year, nonresident deer tags went from $259 to $302, and elk tags went from $373 to $417.

Nonresident licenses and tags bring in more revenue than resident licenses. A resident deer tag costs $19.75, and an elk tag $30.75.

But Fish and Game has seen a steady decline in nonresident tags sales in recent years, part of which is attributed by the 2009 fee hike.

Idaho competes with other states for nonresident hunters, who often pay more than 10 times what a residents pay for licenses and tags. But nonresidents also have the option of going to other states that charge less, or have better hunting and/or fishing opportunities.

F&G may face an uphill battle in the Statehouse. Legislators are typically reluctant to raise resident license and tag fees, often voting them down, or scaling back the increases.

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