It's been about a decade since hunting and fishing fees have gone up in Minnesota. It's time it happens.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and sportmen's groups from throughout the state will go to the Legislature this year in an effort to increase fees to help offset a major lack of revenue.
Why the push for an increase?
Well, some of the blame goes to the Legislature - last year's government shutdown reportedly cost the DNR somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million in lost fishing and hunting license sales. Also, revenue from hunting and fishing license sales are projected to fall well short of projections. Because of the political stalemate over tax and spending between Republicans and Democrats last summer, the Legislature didn't act on the DNR's proposal in 2011. That needs to change this year, otherwise, the DNR is looking at making some major cuts. And for you hunters and anglers, don't think you wouldn't notice those cutbacks.
Last year, the DNR proposed a bump from $17 to $24 for a one-year resident individual adult fishing license and from $24 to $40 for a married couple. An individual deer license would have gone from $26 to $30. An annual angling license for a nonresident adult would have gone from $39.50 to $44 and a nonresident deer license would have gone from $140 to $160. The DNR's proposal this year is expected to be about the same. If the Legislature pushes the increase through the increased fees would take effect in 2013.
There are two key points to keep in mind here. One, the increases will be paid for by user fees - that is, it's those who hunt and fish who will be affected; and two, fishing and hunting licenses in Minnesota are, for the most part, lower than other places in the United States.
Not only that, but the fishing and hunting business is vital to the state's economy, generating more than $3.5 billion per year. Fishing and hunting are not only traditions in Minnesota and part of who we are, outdoor sports are a key mechanism in our economic engine. If it takes a little more from each hunter, each angler, to make that engine run more smoothly - or prevent it from breaking down - than we believe it's those very people - the ones who enjoy sitting in deer stands every fall or in a fishing boat in the summer - who should pay a little more to keep our rich reputation strong.
From gas to groceries - things we all pay for - the price of everything else is going up, so why shouldn't the cost to go hunting and fishing? If it means avoiding drastic cuts to outdoor programs and state agencies that watch over our lakes, parks and trails, and wildlife areas, we're all for it. Ten years? The state has put the increases off for too long already.