By Bill Hudson

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — It’s a big part of our state’s identity in this land of 10,000 lakes and vast expanse of forests. But that hunting and fishing culture doesn’t come without a cost.

The state Department of Natural Resources manages a $94 million game and fish fund. It pays for everything from habitat improvement and enforcement to the creel surveys and game modeling, which determine each season’s bag limits.

Of that, what you fork over for hunting or fishing licenses pays only a portion of the cost.

“The game and fish fund is going to go underwater,” said Gary Botzek, with the Minnesota Conservation Federation.

His group is one of more than 60 outdoor and sports groups that are asking to pay higher license fees for the privilege of hunting, fishing and boating.

According to the broad coalition, the last time Minnesota game and fish license fees increased was back in 2001. That’s when gasoline was selling for $1.75 per gallon.

“We’ve got a major battle going on. We’re under resourced and we need some long-term sustainable funding to do this, year after year after year,” added Steve Morse, executive director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership.

After more than a decade of no increases to hunting and fishing licenses, the reality is that the DNR’s game and fish fund is going broke. It will be in the red as early as this summer, after losing roughly $7.6 million in revenue.

If nothing is done soon, the DNR’s Director of Fish and Wildlife Ed Boggess warns that critical programs and protections will suffer.

“We’re to that point where we’re talking everything from staff, officers, equipment, boats, trucks, surveys, conservation officers, stocking and monitoring programs,” said Boggess.

So, the DNR, along with the coalition of sports groups say it’s time to pay for the privilege. A bill is now being debated in the Minnesota Senate to do just that.

“If I fish, I pay. If you don’t want to fish or hunt, my taxes don’t go up, I don’t have to pay for the fee,” said State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Natural Resources committee.

The committee took initial testimony on just how much additional funding will be needed. Under the Senate plan, resident angling licenses would rise from $17 to $22. A married couple’s fishing license would jump from $25 to $35.

Hunting licenses increase, too. A small game license is proposed to increase from $19 to $22. A resident deer hunting license would rise from $26 to $30.

Comments (7)
  1. Corey says:

    Well, between my wife and I we can now just stay home without fishing or deer hunting, buy 95 lbs of pork from the locker with what we didn’t spend on licenses, and still have venison in the freezer when we happen upon one of the 500 car vs deer incidents in our area.

  2. G Dog says:

    Good for you Corey. You’ve now joined the rednecks of Kentucky in eating roadkill rather than support the efforts of the DNR to sustain a huntable population for all Minnesotans.

    After all, it’s all about you isn’t it?

  3. steve says:

    Well Corey, if you can’t afford an extra few bucks, then maybe you can’t afford to hunt or fish in the first place! Hunting and fishing isn’t all about getting something, its about enjoying the outdoors. If your that hard up about getting food for the table, then maybe you should stick to “roadkill”!

  4. Thanks says:

    I thought lottery tickets were going to end all of this.

  5. Len S says:

    Steve I could not have said it any better. It’s all about being outdoors. I deer hunt every year and if get one good, but if I don’t that’s ok as well. There is nothing better than being outdoors.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Watch & Listen LIVE