Why It Matters: The signing of Senate Bill 327/House Bill 983 (Chapter No. 543) into law marks a major milestone for the Old Line State. For three decades, there have not been any increases to the hunting and trapping license fees, but through the signing of this legislation into law, sportsmen and women will continue their tenured history of bolstering conservation funding for their respective states. Relatedly, providing accommodations to an important constituency in the outdoor community – college students – is essential, and this law will allow non-resident students to enjoy all of Maryland’s hunting pursuits at resident rates. Finally, the creation of a sika deer hunting stamp will allow sportsmen and women to add to their legacy of supporting in-state conservation efforts even further.
- On May 8, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined numerous in-state and national partners, along with leaders of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, to take part in a signing ceremony for Senate Bill 327/House Bill 983 (Chapter No. 543).
- This law will increase fees for certain hunting and trapping licenses, establish a stamp for hunting sika deer, and authorize non-resident students attending a college or university in the state to purchase hunting licenses at resident rates.
- Throughout regular sessions, CSF worked alongside partners in support of these policy initiatives and congratulates all parties who made this momentous bill signing possible.
On May 8, Maryland Governor Wes Moore held a signing ceremony for Senate Bill 327/House Bill 983 (Chapter No. 543), bringing together CSF, in-state and national conservation and sportsmen’s organizations, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Co-Chairs of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Through its enactment, this law will, among several policy accomplishments: increase fees for certain hunting and trapping licenses (something that has not been occurred in over 34 years); allow non-resident college students to purchase hunting licenses at resident rates (a provision brought forth by Caucus Co-Chair and NASC Executive Council Member Senator Jack Bailey); and, establish a sika deer hunting stamp. Earlier this year, CSF testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in support of these policy initiatives.
Maryland’s sportsmen and women have a proud legacy of supporting the state’s conservation work through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). A primary ingredient for this System is the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Unfortunately, the price of hunting licenses in Maryland has failed to keep up with inflation, while the costs of doing business and delivering on-the-ground conservation benefits have increased. The enactment of this bill ensures that the financial footing for the DNR is sustained for years to come.
Additionally, the offering of resident hunting license fee rates to non-resident college students provides strong recognition of the fact that Maryland’s college students are tomorrow’s wildlife managers, political and business leaders, and members of conservation organizations. Despite spending 9 months out of the year(or more) in the state, non-resident college students are often priced out of formative outdoor experiences due to the high costs of hunting licenses, but this law will rectify that inequity.
Finally, the funds collected through the creation of a sika deer hunting stamp will further contribute to the ASCF, supporting the DNR’s on-the-ground conservation efforts and exemplifying the ways in which upland hunting contributes funding towards our state’s fish, wildlife, and natural habitats.
CSF applauds Governor Moore for signing this into law and thanks everyone who made this bill signing ceremony possible.