The Saratoga Sun -

Hunting fees, permits take a hike

 

Budget cuts to the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish have spurred lawmakers to approve increases in the price for most hunting licenses and game permits in the state.

The increases, while modest, are intended to recoup losses to five Game and Fish programs which saw cuts of around $10.8 million over the next two years, according to a release by the department.

To help make up for the budget shortfalls, the legislature has approved cost increases for most types of hunting licenses. Both resident and non-resident licenses and tags will be increasing in price.

The average cost increase for all licenses and permits, both resident and non-resident is $87.71.

The median increase is $7.50. The average price for all licenses will increase 21.62 percent. Average non-resident license increases are 26.17 percent, and the average resident license increase is 7.8 percent.

The price increases will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

According to the Game and Fish Department, the five programs affected by the budget cuts have been receiving funding from the legislature since 2005. The affected programs are the sage grouse management program, sensitive species, wolf management, veterinary services and aquatic invasive species.

Under the previous funding scheme, the legislature funded the programs because of the recognition that the programs benefit the entire population of Wyoming, not only sportspeople, the department said in its release.

Now however, the burden of funding the programs will be the responsibility of the Game and Fish Commission.

By allowing Game and Fish to increase license costs, the agency hopes to increase revenues by around $5 million.

"Game and Fish very much appreciates the support for wildlife shown by this investment from the Legislature and Governor," said Scott Talbott, Director of Game and Fish. "Unfortunately, due to the cut, even with this license fee increase Game and Fish will have less revenue to provide the same services we were providing previously."

According to Game and Fish, most wildlife management activities in the past have been supported by license fees paid by sportsmen and sportswomen. With these increases, about 85 percent of the department's budget will now be derived from license fees.

Even though the increases are hoped to raise funds available, Game and fish pointed out reductions in permits in the upcoming hunting seasons because of harsh winter weather may put a further damper on revenues for the department.

"We now face uncertain times as we may have to reduce the number of licenses available due to a harsh winter and there may be less revenue from the federal sales of firearms and ammunition coming to states," the release said. "As always, we commit to being good stewards of wildlife."

 

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