Lawmakers could raise fishing, hunting fees
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: January 8, 2013
State lawmakers are considering raising state hunting and fishing license fees.
Wyoming’s Legislature, which convenes today, will consider legislation that would bump up the cost of resident and nonresident tags for almost every game species. Resident elk tags, for example, would increase from $50 to $65, and nonresident elk tags would cost $120 more a year — from $480 to $600 — under the draft bill. Another provision would tie annual changes in license fees to national rates of inflation or deflation tracked by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The fee hikes and inflation amendment are necessary and justified, said Steve Kilpatrick, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.
“If we expect the same services, we have to expect to pay more,” said Kilpatrick, a Jackson resident.
“We have a world-class wildlife resource here,” he said. “It brings in $1.1 billion to the state’s economy. Combined with tourism, it’s $2.9 billion. It’s a long-term renewable resource, and it’s the kind of economy that fits well with the state. It’s clean, it’s healthy and it’s renewable.”
Last week, 12 organizations released a statement supporting the license fee bill, which was endorsed by the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee. Besides the Wildlife Federation, they include the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Wyoming chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Game and Fish forecasts a 20 percent reduction in next year’s budget if the bill fails, The Associated Press reported.
Support for the bill is “touch and go,” Kilpatrick said. He said that changes to the bill are likely.
“The bill is about as flexible as putty right now,” Kilpatrick said.