On March 17, the Idaho Senate voted unanimously to pass House Bill 230. The bill, sponsored by the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee, would raise fees for general hunting and fishing licenses as well as tags, and provide additional funding for depredation and sportsmen’s access programs.
Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senators Lee Heider and Michelle Stennett co-sponsored the bill, with Senator Steve Bair carrying HB 230 on the Senate Floor. The bill now goes to the desk of Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Butch Otter to be signed into law.
The bill increases the price of most resident general license tags and fees by approximately 20 percent. As noted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Director Virgil Moore, the push for an increase in resident fees is driven largely by inflationary pressures that have increased IDFG’s operational costs by 22 percent since the last fee increase was authorized in 2005. The price lock component of the fee legislation – starting in 2018 – will allow those purchasing resident licenses, tags, and permits to stay at the 2017 price they pay for those items during subsequent years. Those who do not buy resident licenses, tags, and permits in 2017 will pay the increased prices for these items starting in 2018. Additionally, HB 230 creates a new $5 surcharge on resident adult hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and a $10 surcharge on all such nonresident licenses to provide funding for both wildlife depredation activities and sportsmen’s access programs managed by the IDFG.
On March 13, leadership in the Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus submitted a letter to the Senate Resources and Environment Committee supporting HB 230. As the letter from Caucus leadership noted, “Passage of HB 230 will ensure that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game meets its statutory obligation to manage Idaho’s fish and wildlife in a fiscally responsible manner, while also supporting sportsmen’s access programs and bolstering the Department’s ability to address wildlife depredation issues on private lands.”
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?