IN Hunting, fishing licenses to surge 63% next year.


Mar 11, 2001
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Hunting, fishing licenses to surge 63% next year.

By Phil Bloom, The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana residents will pay a lot more for the opportunity to hunt and fish next year.

A lot more.

The state's Natural Resources Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a request from the Department of Natural Resources to raise 11 license fees, including a 63 percent jump for basic hunting and fishing permits.

"We've talked to literally hundreds and hundreds of deer hunters and fisherman about this issue, and we're not hearing complaints at all," Natural Resources Commission member Jack Arnett said before voting on the proposal. "None at all."

The Natural Resources Commission, a 12-member group that oversees Department of Natural Resources activities, heard from representatives of three conservation groups before approving a fee package that will raise the basic hunting or fishing licenses from $8.75 to $14.25.

Licenses for trout and salmon fishing, fur trapping, and deer, turkey, waterfowl and game bird hunting also will rise.

The new fees take effect Jan. 1 and are aimed at helping the department's Division of Fish and Wildlife avoid a projected $3.7 million deficit in its current fiscal year that ends next June. Department of Natural Resources officials say the fee increase, coupled with $1.9 million in budget cuts, will allow the fund to break even the next two years.

"We're very happy," department Director Larry Macklin said. "I guess the thing I'm most proud of was how the Fish and Wildlife division did in fact get the word out. The responses were positive and very supportive."

Macklin unveiled the fee proposal in June to an advisory group comprised of 18 conservation clubs and organizations. Further public input was gathered at three open house meetings earlier this month and from written comments sent to the department.

Most feedback supported a fee increase but questioned the amount.

"I won't stand here and tell you everyone is wild about this proposal," Fish and Wildlife Assistant Director Glen Salmon told the Natural Resources Commission. "No one likes to pay more for anything."

Salmon said the increases are "a bitter pill for the sporting public, but just because it's a bitter pill doesn't mean it isn't the right medicine. We firmly believe it is."

License fees were last raised in 1988, and Salmon pointed out that the department has been able to meet rising expenses because of allocations from the state's general fund that have increased from $2 million to $10 million over the past nine years.

"However, this year, due to the state's poor economic forecast, the level of general fund money we're asking for just isn't available," Salmon said.

Dave Delaney, president of the Indiana Deer Hunters Association, told the commission that the need for a fee increase was clear but argued that raising the cost of a deer license from $13.75 to $24 "is unfair and not equitable" to other licenses.

"A fisherman can fish all year, 365 days, with unlimited harvest for much less cost than the cost of a deer license," Delaney said. "The reality is the deer license is driving the revenue for the DNR and it can't continue to do that."

Deer licenses, the single biggest source of license revenue for the Department of Natural Resources, generated about $4.5 million last year.

"As a deer hunter, I understand where they're coming from," said Ray McCormack, an Natural Resources Commission member. "But as I talk to people about this issue, they said you have to realize this is Indiana's big game species, so a deer license should cost you more than a quail hunting license or a rabbit hunting license."

McCormack added that over the course of a full season, the revised deer archery license will cost an average of only 25 cents a day.

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