House approves hunting, fishing and trapping license restructuring, which now heads to the Governor’s desk

As the last piece of the natural resource budget puzzle for Fiscal Year 2014, the Michigan House of Representatives just concurred in the Senate amendments to House Bill 4668, a bill which would implement a fairly substantial overhaul of the state’s hunting, fishing and trapping license system. Upon the Governor’s approval, the new prices will go into effect when the new license year sales begin on March 1, 2014.

The new license system is intended to provide users with a simpler, easier-to-use system. Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ Executive Director Erin McDonough said “MUCC is very much in support of a simplified structure and made every effort to ensure this licensing system does not impede hunters, anglers or trappers from participating and that we know how these funds are being used. We have worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Commission for the last several years on increasing transparency and accountability to make sure we are getting the biggest bang for our bucks.”

The proposed structure would include a required $10 “base” hunting license that allows the holder to hunt small game, and then tags would be available to purchase for waterfowl ($12), turkey ($15), deer ($20), bear ($25), and fur harvesters ($15), while elk and wolf licenses would still be $100 each. On the fishing side, they have simplified the license system to only have one fishing license, good for all species, for $25. Seniors 65 and older will maintain their 60 percent discount for fishing and the base hunting license, as well as turkey, deer, and fur harvester tags. The full price sheet is available here with additional information on juniors, non-residents and other special licenses. These changes to the system are expected to bring in an additional $18 million when fully implemented.

In addition to the regular license prices, there will also be an added $1 surcharge on the base hunting and fishing licenses, which is intended to generate another $1.6 million to be used for marketing, education, and outreach. Modeled after a similar funding stream in Colorado, this restricted fund will be dedicated specifically to a public awareness campaign about the benefits of hunting, fishing, and trapping to Michigan, and cannot be diverted for other uses. A new piece of legislation will be introduced shortly to create an independent citizen-based council to oversee and manage this new fund.

Kent Wood, MUCC’s Legislative Affairs Manager, said “Michigan’s sportsmen and women have been funding natural resources management efforts since licenses were first sold, but there is a need to educate the general public, who may have little knowledge or appreciation of our rich sporting heritage, about all that we do for conservation. We appreciate Representative Jon Bumstead’s (R-Newaygo) leadership on both the license fee package and this new public education effort.”

Logo courtesy Michigan United Conservation Clubs

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