By Bill Hudson

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the price of hunting and fishing licenses needs to go up or its Game and Fishing Fund will cease to be solvent by as soon as next year.

The last time hunting and fishing licenses received a price hike was over a decade ago. At that time, a gallon of gasoline sold for $1.74. Since then, inflation has taken its toll on the currency and prices on nearly everything have risen.

According to the DNR, inflation has been eating away at the Game and Fish Fund at an alarming rate. Costs for gasoline, equipment and personnel continue to climb while revenues flowing into the fund remain the same.

The proposal before lawmakers would raise the price of a resident fishing license to $24 (up from $17) and a resident big game deer license to $30 (up from $26). A resident small game license would go up by $4.

Many outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists support the price hike, as it is the only way to protect habitats and preserve sporting areas.

Joe Duggan, the vice president of the conservation group Pheasants Forever, is aware of the need for habitat improvement projects and knows that the way that work gets done is through the funding the DNR receives.

“Those are the only dollars that the fish and game department of the DNR has to manage all our hunting, angling, and wildlife areas … All that stuff comes from license fees,” Duggan said.

When the fund goes into the red, state law requires the DNR to cut projects and programs. Effects will soon be felt in lake stocking programs, habitat improvement projects, even enforcement. Already, many positions around the state remain unfilled pending a clearer indication of the fund’s future revenues.

While the proposal to hike license fees has wide support among conservation and sporting groups, state lawmakers have been hesitant to approve the license increases. The proposal remains bogged down by the stalemate between Democrats and Republicans over the budget bill.

Many believe that anti-tax sentiments, which are pervasive in the capitol, are hurting the plan. Despite the fact that raising license fees is viewed as an increase in a “user fee” and not a tax!

Because of the lack of action on the plan, noted outdoorsmen, Bud Grant and Ron Schara, wrote an open letter to Minnesotans. The two are vocal supporters of raising more license revenue. They argue that the license to hunt and fish is the least expensive part of the outdoor experience.

“We want our grandchildren – and yours – to enjoy what we’ve had,” they said.

It makes sense to hunter and angler Wayne Jacobson. He says it is a small price to pay for a cherished privilege.

“I really think these extra funds will help them maintain and do some new habitat programs, so I’m really in favor of the increase,” Jacobson said.

Comments (20)
  1. Jason says:

    Minnesota state lottery?

  2. Murph says:

    Lay them off! They sit in their cars and look for PEOPLE! Cougars in Mn for decades but they never saw one! Wolverines extinct,but roam freely around the St.Croix and Kettle rivers! They are not blind! At least the number of tickets given to snowmobilers and ATV’s seems to indicate that they can see at least minimally! They let a handful of dirt poor land owners control all the DRY entrance points to the State forests! They suck and something is very fishy and it sure ain’t the walleyes that they SAY that they are rearing and stocking!

    1. Caitlin says:

      They don’t always sit and look for people. They also look for wildlife and monitor the endangered species that live in our state. Then who would regulate hunting? If its not done people will take and take till there is nothing left. We have seen it in the past with mutliple species such as the bison, passenger pidgeon, and bird of paradise. Are you will ingto lose wildlife? To hear no birds, no deer, no moose? What would Minnesota look like then?

  3. lefty says:

    open a casino run by the state and give that money to the dnr and wildlife fund

  4. Joe says:

    Stop spending the money in Vegas and places like that for you get togethers and the other parties on our dime, then we can talk about a increase.

  5. md RN says:

    How about changing the price for out-of-state hunters. For instance, if someone comes in from WI, we charge them what their out-of-state prices are, and so on and so forth…

  6. NO MORE FEES!!! says:


    1. Caitlin says:

      Driving around to get the ones who are doing things unlawfully or doing research projects such as scent post surveys.

  7. chris says:

    Maybe they should spend smarter

  8. chris says:

    1. Cut 75% fisheries and hire private stocking
    2. Quite buying land and then selling other land
    3. Hire more conservation offciers and cut more of office jobs
    4. Have it so that all fish houses need a shelter license agian

  9. Dennis Brown says:

    For the first time , this year, I decided to take the money that I would have spent on a licence, minnows, tackle, gas,boat, motor,resort, etc, and bought fish fillets at the grocery store. I got MORE than my limit, didn’t freeze my butt off, didn’t risk getting a fine for having the wrong size, limit, or breaking some other law I never heard of. Sorry it’s come to this,but when it comes to the point you have to take a lawyer fishing with you to deciffer DNR laws,and keep you legal,, it’s time to stay home and relax!!

    1. Lisa Phuoc Yang says:

      I can’t wait til my sweety says that to me, “Hun, I’m staying in tonight.” lol…in the meantime, I’ll let him have his fun. Good for you though.

    2. Bobby says:

      seriously? the only reason you go fishing is to take home a limit of fish? It has NOTHING to do with getting outdoors and enjoying the sport? ridiculous!

  10. Don says:

    Just do away with the licenes and let all people fish for free. When the fish are all gone the DNR won’t have a job and no worries

    1. Caitlin says:

      Thats selfish since their are more creatures than just you who eat the fish!

  11. Less goverment or no regulations says:

    I am beginning to understand now why folks want less goverment. Basically those who don’t want to drive the speed limit who want to drive any speed faster will say we need to lower taxes and create less goverment but really all they want to do is to speed down the road. The DNR is needed. They do a good job. We don’t need to get rid of them. That would be a mistake. And they need to raise fees.

  12. Mark from says:

    Minnesota Tax Waste
    Start spending the money you take from us in a wiser way.

  13. Ex hunting nurse says:

    12$ for a ind angling license and 55$ for a license good for in my case, 3months? I bought a license last year but won’t this. Too expensive considering the window of opportunity. Maybe if I had 2 or 3 weeks vacation a year but alas, non-union nurses seem to just get the shaft.

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