Wyoming lawmakers will face a range of bills concerning hunting and fishing issues when they convene next week, including one that calls for increasing license fees.

The Legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee endorsed a bill to increase most hunting and fishing licenses for residents and nonresidents.

Under the bill as written, resident deer tags would rise from $36 to $48. Resident elk tags would increase from $50 to $65. Nonresidents would see deer tags rise from $240 to $300, while elk tags would increase from $480 to $600. Many other licenses would see similar increases.

An analysis by the Legislative Service Office states that the increase would result in more than $2 million in additional revenue for various game and fish funds in fiscal year 2014, increasing to more than $8 million in fiscal year 2016.

Eric Keszler, spokesman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said last week that the department needs the extra revenue to maintain its current level of operations.

“If we’re not able to get that, we’re looking at something like a 20 percent cut in next year’s budget,” Keszler said. He said the department already is looking at an 8 percent cut in the current two-year state funding period.

Sen. Bruce Burns, co-chairman of the wildlife committee, said he’s concerned about a provision of the bill that calls on the state Game Commission to tie annual changes in license fees to national rates of inflation or deflation tracked by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Burns, R-Sheridan, said he may try to split the price indexing off into a separate bill in case some lawmakers who favor increasing license fees oppose the automatic indexing. He said the game department needs more revenue to avoid the possibility of shortfalls starting in 2015.

The committee has endorsed another bill that would establish a raffle system for the sale of some trophy game and wild bison licenses.

Keszler said such raffle systems have worked well in other states to raise additional funds. “We see it as something that could potentially work in Wyoming as well,” he said.

Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, is sponsoring a bill that would allow hunters to take a cow bison every five years, up from the current state law limiting such licenses to once in a lifetime.

Gingery said the Jackson Hole bison herd now stands at just more than 900 animals, which is more than the 550 target set by biologists.

The current hunting regime isn’t reducing the herd enough in part because the bison herd tends to stay on Grand Teton National Park, where hunting’s not allowed, Gingery said. However, he said that when the herd does cross out of the park, many hunters want to use their once-in-a-lifetime permits to kill a bull, so the population of cows increases.

Gingery’s bill also would reduce the license fee for nonresidents from $2,500 to $1,000. He said his hope is to attract more nonresident hunters.

“The overall objective is trying to find mechanisms to increase the number of people willing to come and hunt bison,” he said.

(8) comments

rigrat
rigrat

I will be more than glad to pay more for license's as soon as I see Fish & Game start living within their means like most of the rest of us have to do.Most of us don't get new pickups every year or so and the latest spy gadgets that cost as much as a car.

sako

I am confused???? Game and fish website shows non res elk lic currently @$591.00, non res deer @ $326.00, res deer @ $44.00, res elk @ $57.00. Are we giving non residents a discount? and residents a fee increase?

Panhead

Myself and my hunting buddys, (a total of 6 of us) are done, to he)) with it. Do ya see what happens when you continue to raise prices. You Idiots haven't got it figured out yet. The higher you raise the price the fewer will purchase the tag. I'm not going to do the math but you have taken 6 antelope, 6 deer, and 6 elk tags out of the mix. May not seem like alot but I will gaurantee you we will not be the only 6. You guys have fun going out and playing with your new toys and keep raising prices I will feel comfotable not helping pay for them. IDIOTS!

Sassy
Sassy

I agree- take your comments to the legislature- Travel Recreation and Wildlife Committee

jg

If they raise them, my hunting days are over. They can kiss my you know what.

brianvmax

im with you, i love how they forecast these numbers, sorry but revenue is going to drop-not increase, same when you raise water rates etc.. people cut back, we already kick enough into the economy when we go hunting, this is stupid.

sako

Keep fees the same with an option to pay more for a better chance of drawing: www.drawalicensenow.blogspot.com

Jeff Hammer

So the price of an elk license is increasing by $15 and the cost of a deer license is increasing by $12, and probably an antelope license will increase by $12. So we're talking an increase of $39 dollars over the course of a whole year if you hunt all three species. That's the less than the cost of a tank of gasoline. Gimme a break...If you want to stop hunting for that, then you shouldn't be hunting in the first place. Let's see...if we divide $39 by 52 (the number of weeks in a year), then a person would have to save about $0.75 more each week to put into a cookie jar to pay for licenses. If hunting is important to you, you can suck it up and find the money. Quit smoking. Drink less beer or $4 gourmet coffees. Save on gas by walking or riding a bike. You'll be a better hunter by being in better shape. If you can't do that, then by all means don't hunt. Those of us who will continue to hunt will have a better chance of getting the licenses we want.

Like it or not, costs increase....for everything. I am not willing to accept a wildlife agency in my beloved Wyoming that is inadequate. I'll help pay for one that can afford the professionals and the tools it needs to do the job that is expected of it.

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