Why It Matters: Through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, state fish and wildlife management agencies rely significantly on the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to support their conservation efforts. As the costs associated with these management activities continue to increase, periodic increases in licenses fees are necessary to ensure that state agencies remain able to support their state’s public trust resources.
- Last month, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) approved license fee increases that took effect on July 1. Discussions around this increase began last year to address the revenue needs of the Commission.
- The Missouri Conservation Commission (MCC) is currently accepting public comments regarding proposed license fee increases in the Show-Me State, the first such proposal in several years.
- Given the importance of license revenue to conservation efforts, even in states like Arkansas and Missouri that have complementary funding mechanisms, periodic fee increases are necessary to keep up with inflation and to ensure the longevity of state conservation programs which, in turn, protects the ability of hunters and anglers to pursue their outdoor passions.
Nobody likes to see prices increase. However, sportsmen and women, the original conservationists, continue to willingly shoulder most of the burden when it comes to funding conservation efforts across the country. Recently, the AGFC instituted a necessary fee increase for several licenses offered to sportsmen and women while the MCC has recently opened a public comment period regarding proposed fee increases in Missouri.
While these price increases often seem significant and, in some cases, burdensome, the reality is that most of these proposals are still much more affordable than many of the costs associated with participation in hunting. For example, Arkansas’ $60 increase for a Non-Resident Annual Hunting License (needed to hunt white-tailed deer) is approximately the cost of one box of quality hunting ammunition for the average deer rifle. When viewed in this context, sportsmen and women can breathe a bit easier knowing that it is through their contributions to conservation that we continue to have deer, and other game animals and sport fish, to pursue. With that in mind, licenses prices become less of a fee and more of an investment in the future of our time-honored outdoor traditions.
Such is the beauty of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), the framework through which state fish and wildlife agencies receive a significant portion, if not the entirety, of the funding necessary for the agency to perform its duties. Through the ASCF, sportsmen and women can take pride in knowing that their participation in our shared outdoor pursuits supports the conservation of our nation’s public trust fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all Americans.
For more information on the updated licenses fees in Arkansas, visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website here. Likewise, to view and comment on the proposed license fee changes in Missouri, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website here.