BOISE - There are 540,000 people that hold Idaho hunting and fishing licenses, with more than 300,000 of those being in-state.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is proposing an increase in fees because they say the cost of business has increased.
Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler says House Bill 230 is a combined bill.
The first part is a 20 percent increase in resident and non-resident licenses and tags. But the fee would only apply to those who buy periodically.
"Meaning those who hunt and fish would have until December to buy a 2017 license and lock in at current prices, and would be able to keep those prices as long as they maintain their residence for a period of five years,” said Keckler.
The increase is expected to generate $3 million per year.
Keckler says revenue would go toward modernizing hatcheries, big game population surveys, maintaining public shooting ranges, and especially increasing fish and wildlife predation management.
“Fish and Game has been managing depredation for many years but this winter has been particularly difficult, we expect to spend $1 million across state for winter feeding and property damages,” said Keckler.
The second part of the bill proposes an annual $5 charge for adult resident hunters, anglers, and trappers; and $10 for those out of state. Those fees would raise an additional $2 million per year.
“Five-hundred-thousand dollars would be used to compensate landowners for damages caused by big game, and $500,000 applied to prevent depredation as best we can. The last million would go toward willing landowners for people to go hunt and fish on primarily private land,” said Keckler.
Fish and Game says license fees haven’t been adjusted since 2005, and since then Keckler says the agency's operation costs have increased by 22 percent.
“Those sportsmen that we are hearing from have been supportive of this proposal because they recognize if we’re going to have large numbers of big game animals, we have a certain responsibility to manage and mitigate the damage, the damage they can cause,” said Keckler.
Sportsmen and others will get a chance to weigh-in on the proposal when the bill has hearing in the House Resources and Conservation Committee. The meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. Friday and is open to the public.
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