Letters from the West

Otter budgets money for hunting, fishing license increase, but will let others sell plan

A herd of elk came down to Harris Ranch this weekend pushed by heavy snows from the foothills wildlife management area managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The agency is seeking a license and tag fee hike to pay for managing both game and non-game species with a “lock-in” provision that allows those with current licenses to keep the current fee.
A herd of elk came down to Harris Ranch this weekend pushed by heavy snows from the foothills wildlife management area managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The agency is seeking a license and tag fee hike to pay for managing both game and non-game species with a “lock-in” provision that allows those with current licenses to keep the current fee.

Gov. Butch Otter included in the budget he presented to legislators Monday the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s request to increase most resident licenses, tags and fees between $1 and $6.

Otter stopped short of supporting the proposal, saying it comes from dedicated funds under the control of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Commissioners will need to win approval from the Idaho Legislature.

The commission pulled a similar proposal last year after it got sideways with several legislators over auction tags and landowner appreciation tags. If approved, the new resident prices will go into effect in 2018.

A “price-lock” proposal would allow hunters and anglers who purchase and maintain an annual license starting in 2017 to be exempt from the increases.

The increase in revenue would go to the agency to manage Idaho’s game and non-game species. The $100 million agency with 558 employees is in charge of managing all wildlife in the state. The last resident license increase was more than 12 years ago. The agency’s costs have increased over 22 percent in that time.

“The level of services Fish and Game provides and our capacity to manage are both decreasing because of increased costs,” said Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore. “As a result, we are stocking fewer trout and conducting fewer game and fish population surveys.”

Idaho Fish and Game receives no general tax revenue, depending on license fees and federal dollars.

“We believe the Fish and Game Price Lock will encourage enough of the intermittent hunters and anglers to buy a license every year and will generate the revenue needed to keep up with inflation and help us provide quality hunting and fishing in Idaho every year, whether they use their license or not,” Moore said.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

  Comments