May 10, 2021

Caucus Co-Chairs Sponsor Combination Hunting and Fishing License Bill in California

Article Contact: Keely Hopkins,

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Pacific States Assistant Manager

Highlights

Why It Matters: California’s hunting and fishing license sales have been declining over the last several decades, which has resulted in decreased funding for conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife through license and tags sales. To combat these declining numbers, state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and hunting/fishing organizations have all invested heavily in R3 efforts and continue to identify strategies to increase participation in outdoor activities.

Two of California’s Outdoor Sporting Caucus Co-Chairs, Senators Brian Jones and Bill Dodd, were among the main authors of Senate Bill 470 that would create a combination hunting and fishing license in California. SB 470, if passed, would allow both Californians and non-residents the option of purchasing a combined hunting and fishing license, rather than having to purchase both licenses separately. This would provide an increased convenience for California’s many outdoor recreationists that engage in both hunting and fishing, along with having the option for automatic renewal. Additionally, SB 470 extends the duration of the license to 365 days from the date of purchase—allowing outdoorsmen and women to fully utilize the license year-round.

Providing updated, purchaser-friendly license options was identified by stakeholders as an important tool in California’s Statewide R3 Implementation Strategy that focuses on recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) efforts for both hunters and anglers. If passed, SB 470 would take effect in 2024, allowing the California Department of Fish and Wildlife time to develop and implement the new licensing system.

SB 470 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee with strong bipartisan support and received a public hearing in Appropriations on May 10. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has supported the bill throughout the process, testifying before both committees and joining coalition partners in submitting letters in support.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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