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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DGIF Seeking Authority to Sell Individual Big Game Licenses

Delegate Tony Wilt has pre-filed a bill that would authorized the Board of Game and Inland fisheries to establish separate licenses to hunt either deer, bear or turkey.  Currently, big game hunters buy one license that include tags for all three at a cost of $18.00.  This is in addition to purchasing a resident hunting license and any special season licenses (archery, muzzleloader) that a hunter may choose.  Under HB1553, if DGIF establishes separate big game licenses, they would no longer sell a combined license for hunting deer, bear and turkey.  The legislation specifies that separate licenses for hunting bear, if established, would cost $25.00.  Licenses for deer or turkey could not exceed the cost of a state hunting license, currently $18.00.

The impact of this legislation could be costly to hunters.  For instance, if an individual wants to hunt the early muzzleloader deer season and then hunt bear and the fall turkey season under current law, he or she pays $54 - $18 for the resident state hunting license, $18 for the resident muzzleloader license, and $18 for the "Big Game Tags" that include tags for all three big game species.  Under HB1553, that same hunter would pay $97 - almost double the current cost.  There would be the $54 listed above ($18 of which would now be just for a deer tag) plus an additional $25 for a separate bear license (as specified in the bill) and $18 for a separate turkey license.

At a time when we are trying to increase the number of hunters, this bill would almost double the cost for a number of hunters.  It should be noted that DGIF is supported almost solely on fees charged for licenses and other sportsmen paid fees.

In related news, DGIF has proposed hunting, fishing, and trapping license fee increases, and the establishment of admittance, parking, or other use fees for certain Department-owned facilities. A public comment period opened December 16, 2010 and closes April 14, 2011.  It is important that sportsmen make their voices heard on this important issue.  Please go to the DGIF web site and post your comments opposing or supporting the proposed changes.

2 comments:

Jerry H said...

This BILL, pre-filed by Delegate TONY WILT is going to destroy our hunting heratige. What we need is to get Sunday hunting and to have our archery, crossbow and muzzelloading licenses made available on a lifetime basis. Now, I have heard it said that the bear hunters don't like other hunters shooting (their) bear. Is their any truth in this?

VSSA Legislative Chairman said...

The bill was tabled in committee last week, no doubt thanks to folks like you Jerry who let the committee know this bill would harm hunting by making it harder for some hunters to afford the sport. Delegate Wilt put the bill in at the request of DGIF. We now must turn our attention to DGIF and make our voice heard on the pending $5.00 license fee increase they are proposing.