MN DNR Seeks Higher Fishing, Hunting License Fees

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources and sportsmen’s groups are planning a new push to get the Legislature to raise hunting and fishing license fees, alarmed that a key fund is headed for insolvency sooner than expected.

The Game and Fish Fund, which supports programs important to hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, is due to go into the red in mid-2013. That’s about a year earlier than expected when DNR officials first proposed higher license fees a year ago.

The fees haven’t changed since 2001.

“Let us pay more. We’re volunteering,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Ed Boggess, the DNR’s fish and wildlife division director, said revenue will be down $7.6 million from what was forecast a year ago for three reasons. The state government shutdown cost the DNR about $2.2 million in lost fishing and hunting license sales, ongoing revenue from hunting and fishing license sales is projected at $1.1 million less than before, and the state’s share of projected revenues from federal excise taxes on tackle and other items is down $4.3 million.

The DNR proposed a long list of fee increases last year, including a rise 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.

Boggess said it’s urgent that lawmakers act this year so that any fee increases will be in place for 2013 licenses. DNR officials hope to give lawmakers a list early in the session, which opens Jan. 24, of cuts that would have to be made if fees aren’t raised.

“There will be very deep cuts to fisheries and wildlife programs and staffing and offices,” Boggess said.

The Legislature didn’t act on the proposal last year in a session marked by gridlock over taxes and spending between a GOP-controlled House and Senate and a Democratic governor. The House Republican Caucus, in particular, was strongly opposed to any tax increases, even when packaged as user fees paid by the people who directly benefit.

Supporters said they think this year will be different since the state isn’t staring down a huge budget deficit.

“The support is there from the hunting and fishing community,” said Gary Botzek, executive director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation. “Whether the support is there from the legislative community remains to be seen.”

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who chairs the Senate’s environmental committee, said he’ll support higher fees but expects it to be one of the toughest issues his committee tackles this session.

“I think it has a much better chance this year because they’re user fees, not taxes,” Ingebrigtsen said. “If you don’t hunt and fish in the state of Minnesota you don’t have to pay for it.”

The chairman of the corresponding House panel, Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said he generally agrees that higher license fees are needed, but he expects Republicans to come up with a proposal that might not be as extensive as the DNR’s.

Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, which strongly opposes most tax increases, said he wouldn’t necessarily oppose higher game and fish license fees although he’d want to look at the costs of operating the programs they support. He said there’s “always an area of gray” on whether something is a tax or a fee, and he expects the fees to be a hot topic this session.

A study commissioned by the DNR last year found that its annual individual resident and nonresident fishing licenses were low compared to fees charged throughout the United States.” The state’s other fishing license fees were about average.

Minnesota’s deer license fee was low compared to other states, while other game licenses a bit higher and in line with nearby states.

A DNR presentation based on that study said Minnesota’s fees would be in the middle of the pack even with the proposed increases.

Vern Wagner, vice president of Anglers for Habitat, said $25 for a fishing license would still be a bargain compared with other forms of entertainment such as taking your kids to a movie and buying them popcorn.

Wagner also pointed out that the DNR already has absorbed substantial cuts in recent years. Many positions have been eliminated, fewer studies are being done and there’s less money for stocking lakes, he said. And all of that strikes at the heart of the state’s identity, he said.

According to the DNR, around 2 million Minnesotans fish and around 700,000 hunt, generating $3.6 billion in annual economic activity and supporting 55,000 jobs.

“Fishing is synonymous with Minnesota. Or maybe it’s the other way around,” Wager said with a laugh. “Minnesota is synonymous with fishing.”
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. Kevin says:

    Why not use all that money from the “Clean Water Act”? I mean the morons in MN voted for it…and they still have not decided how to spend it on all that “Clean Water”……more…more…..more……more….

  2. Julie says:

    What about the Legacy Fund? Isn’t this something that the lottery funds was suppose to support?

    1. Swamp Fox says:

      @Julie
      The Legacy has its specific purposes and the lottery, which is separate from the Legacy Fund, has its purposes. Unfortunately the Legislature and GOP?T-Partyers have made a mess of how things/funds should be allocated.

      1. Brett says:

        What a LOAD of RUBBISH. The state has tons of money coming in from so many places, they can’t figure out how much is coming in or decide where to spend it. Lottery proceeds, “legacy” SALES TAXES, fishing and hunting licenses, general fund, proceeds from fines and confiscated property, GAS TAXES, RV registrations and title fees, etc. I’ve stopped snowmobiling and fishing, because of all of the STUPID regulations, selective enforecement, and overpriced gas. Keep it up, Minnesota, and I’ll stop hunting as well, I’ll spend THOSE DOLLARS in ANOTHER STATE.

  3. Swamp Fox says:

    Thanks GOP and T-Pawl! All those slice-&-dice budgets cuts are going to hurt MN further. The DNR is a good example. This state has some of the most expensive licenses fees in the country. How are you going to get out-of-state- fishing tourist money to be spent in MN when the license fees are out of most peoples budgets.

    Also, the budget cuts to the DNR have hurt enforcement efforts and conservation efforts. It’s bad enough that fishing anglers are decreasing in numbers for various reasons; that restocking programs are slowing down to negative results; and, enforcement of the DNR statutes have suffered due to loss of DNR officers for various reasons and lack of recruitment efforts.

    It’s about time that the Legislature get off their butts and get this state moving again. That includes making our DNR and the state’s prime natural resources the best in the nation that all can appreciate. Budget cutting services is not the answer. This sportsman is made as hell and I am going to scream to the high heavens to protect this state’s natural treasures and resources so we all can enjoy them………

    .

    1. a mini pothole in the road of life says:

      Maybe if the state could save, say three quarters of a billion dollars or so, we could afford to fund these programs.

      But somebody, who’s name I won’t mention but who’s initials are “SF,” wants to use all that money for something else.

  4. G Dog says:

    It’s about time that the Legislature raised the price of licenses, Sportsmen and women have watched as T-Paw (the guy who didn’t have time to track the buck he shot) sacrificed our most precious resources rather than tax his Wayzata CEO buddies,

    While they are at it, they should raise the fines on ALL violations of fish and game laws.

    1. Kevin says:

      Your loosing me G Diggity Dog…you little city boy…Id shoot a Wayzata CEO if I saw one in the field…All I see is MN rednecks and Hmong out hunting…sometimes each other…..Do yuppies hunt to?

  5. a says:

    You fools really should do your research its not even worth arguing with a bunch of bone headed butt plugs

  6. Joe Hanson says:

    Don’t forget to thank Governor Dayton for shutting down the State, closing the State Parks and recreation areas and cutting off a source of revenue for the DNR.

    1. Duh says:

      GOP shut down the government. Gotta protect the rich people!

      1. Joe Hanson says:

        “Duh” is right!

  7. Mike says:

    That is crazy, I live up in Irionton, MN where the DNR has created a new trail system, paved roads and created an elaborate gate system to keep anyone other then mountain bikers from using OUR natural resource area. I have bought license’s every to hunt for small game and every year I see the area’s I can hunt shrink.The DNR seems to cater to these “organizations” and all they really want is to create area’s where hunting is no longer welcome. This article is a joke.

  8. Brett says:

    STOP PAVING RURAL TRAILS. Bikers can ride mountain bikes just FINE on DIRT TRAILS.

  9. Donna says:

    Why is it EVERYTHING goes up in price, but my paycheck stays the same??

    1. Zygi's da man says:

      Zygi doesn’t care what you make as long as you send it in for his new taj mahal, cigar club, and personal fort knox.

  10. Mark B says:

    The DNR needs to do some house cleaning on wasteful spending. Like trying to drain lakes that have no natural outlet or like said before paving trails the snowmobilers paid for. I am not happy with the way our DNR is running (or ruining) our natural resourcesat this time.

  11. It's time says:

    Once again – RACINO. Dayton and state – get it done. Forget the political BS and do what makes sense for the majority.

    1. heh, heh says:

      Once again – you’re a nut!

      1. It's time says:

        Why do you say that, heh heh?

  12. Murph says:

    How much money do they get from the LOTTERY?. You know that powerball ticket that now as of today costs you DOUBLE what it used to cost and don’t forget all the other small potato tickets and mega this and thats! However you should be happy you don’t live in Wisconsin.In Wisconsin,the taxpayers will pick up the price tag on It’s Governors recall and that of several others.Hopes that I had for an early ending of Walker’s crime spree ended.Yes, I just recently learned that up to 1,115 ,so far, illegal campaign contributions are being investigated.So voters over the river,should be informed that yes they are on the hook for what has been estimated 9 million dollars.Simply because the Feds have to investigate an overwhelming amount of people who could well share a jail cell with this useless GOP creepozoid from the bottom of the barrel.Also the anti union stuff has spawned an avalanche of retirements for The WI school system. Not to mention the switch in majors for many thousands of would have been teachers still in college.In Wisconsin,the GOP has made the devastating storm of July 1 st, that took them 3 months to respond to,look like sprinkle as compared to their assault on the American institutions that they have sworn to Grover Norquist to destroy.Grover ,of course is a close associate of Jack Abramhoff who somehow survived that inquiry only to re emerge as tha e Ayotoola of the GOP ,to which they pledge their alligience and kiss his sandalled toes,I presume! Dissolve Congress now! One State,one vote! What happened to it,ask the organ grinder’s monkey’s!It all sucks!

  13. Jack says:

    We need to repeal the Legacy Fund. That was sold to the voter as a lie. Give the lottery funds to the DNR (not the general fund). No increases are needed. Follow the money people. Where there is money people will take.
    For now I will continue to hunt in South Dakota and fish in Wisconson.

    1. Swamp Fox says:

      @Jack;
      The Legacy Fund in its original form was beneficial for the MN outdoors and heritage we enjoy. However, by the time time the Capitol politics and artsy fartsy types got involved the Heritage Bill was a bit rough around its edges, to say the least. It got passed and the people voted on it as a Constitutional Amendment.

      Now comes the tragedy, Jack; everybody in St.Paul wants their hands on the Legacy money greens. That’s not what I voted for nor did a lot of decent Minnesotans who love the outdoors. The legacy Fund was never meant as an alternative funding source for the DNR nor an alternative funding source for artsy organizations as their supplemental funding source.

      You can only slice-&-dice department budgets, like the DNR, so much that so or later majors problems will cripple their functioning properly. In the DNR’s case, the result will be an eroding of not only public services but the collapse of the natural resources we have come to enjoy.

      Sorry chum but the politics in St.Paul have run amok in its omnipresent stupidity and selfish stifling the MN way of life. Hades will freeze over before the sitting Legislature agrees on anything without gridlock or needless dialog.

      Somewhere there is a trail of fiscal mismanagement and maybe malfeasance causing the mess we have with state government. Otherwise, why should a procedural request for additional funding have to translate into an increase in license fees? Answer that question and you will find the money you seek.

    2. Swamp Fox says:

      @Jack;
      The Legacy Fund in its original form was beneficial for the MN outdoors and heritage we enjoy. However, by the time time the Capitol politics and artsy fartsy types got involved the Heritage Bill was a bit rough around its edges, to say the least. It got passed and the people voted on it as a Constitutional Amendment.

      Now comes the tragedy, Jack; everybody in St.Paul wants their hands on the Legacy money greens. That’s not what I voted for nor did a lot of decent Minnesotans who love the outdoors. The legacy Fund was never meant as an alternative funding source for the DNR nor an alternative funding source for artsy organizations as their supplemental funding source.

      You can only slice-&-dice department budgets, like the DNR, so much that so or later majors problems will cripple their functioning properly. In the DNR’s case, the result will be an eroding of not only public services but the collapse of the natural resources we have come to enjoy.

      Sorry chum but the politics in St.Paul have run amok in its omnipresent stupidity and selfish stifling the MN way of life. Hades will freeze over before the sitting Legislature agrees on anything without gridlock or needless dialog.

      Somewhere there is a trail of fiscal mismanagement and maybe malfeasance causing the mess we have with state government. Otherwise, why should a procedural request for additional funding have to translate into an increase in license fees? Answer that question and you will find the money you seek.

      I rest my case………

  14. rich says:

    Raise the out of state hunting and fishing fees to match the state they live in that they charge us to hunt and fish in their state

    1. Swamp Fox says:

      Sounds reasonable but that won’t get past the GOP/Tea Partyers in the Legislature. They are a bit tied-up in their own gridlock and ignorance to the wishes of the people.

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