Idaho Department of Fish and Game wants to offer discounts

The agency hopes to meet its revenue needs without resorting to higher prices.

LEWISTON TRIBUNEFebruary 16, 2014 

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game wants to mimic Wal-Mart and boost sales. The department is proposing legislation to expand the Fish and Game Commission’s ability to offer discounted prices for its products.

The House Resources and Conservation Committee sent the bill to the House floor with a favorable recommendation last week.

Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Sharon Kiefer said the commission has long had the authority to discount its tag fees, but only for specific game species, zones and gender. It wants to extend that authority to license and permit fees; it also wants to use discounts for more general purposes.

For example, the department now offers a discounted “Sportsman’s Package,” which includes resident hunting and fishing licenses, plus tags for deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, turkey, wolf, salmon and steelhead.

“But we’ve had a lot of sportsmen tell us they’d rather purchase a mini version of the Sportsman’s Package, if they had the flexibility to pick which tags they wanted,” Kiefer said. “This bill lets the commission do that.”

The committee didn’t have much to say about the measure, but Rep. Steven Miller, R-Fairfield, wondered if it would ultimately diminish the quality of hunting and fishing by encouraging the sale of tags and permits that currently go unused.

“What we’re really promoting here is the sale of more tags and permits, with an animal population (that) is declining,” he said. “We’ll have more people chasing a limited number of animals.”

Kiefer said others have raised that concern, but the number of tags and permits is driven by the species management plans. The discount plan simply gives the commission more tools to sell the tags and permits that have been approved.

There’s been some discussion that the department may also introduce a companion bill to raise license, tag and permit fees. The intent is to create a “fee lock” program that lets frequent buyers lock in lower prices, while those who buy licenses less frequently would pay the higher fee. Kiefer said it’s unclear if that measure will move forward.

The Resources Committee also gave a favorable recommendation Thursday to a second bill that lowers the minimum age for big game hunters from 12 to 10. The young hunters have to be accompanied by an adult who also has a hunting license.

“I thought for sure I was going to vote against this,” said Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Soda Springs. “When I attend Cub Scouts meetings, I have concerns about being out in the field with kids of that age, with that energy level. I also asked some constituents and they said, ‘No, that’s too young.’ ”

However, after Kiefer assured him the adult mentors would have to be within speaking distance of the young hunters, he decided to support the measure.

bspence@lmtribune.com,(208) 791-9168

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