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Hey, Buddy, Can you spare a MEPPS?

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Increase in license fees for sportsmen

by Steve Huffaker, Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game.


We need about as much as a Mepps fishing lure costs, but not as much as a Rapala, to keep giving you some of the best hunting and fishing in the country.

By now, you may have heard Idaho Fish and Game wants to adjust fees; here’s why: Just as businesses are paying more than they did five years ago for gasoline, electricity, salaries and insurance, so are we. Unlike most businesses, though, we haven’t changed our prices since May of 2000. Now we’re asking to charge a little more for licenses and tags to cover increased costs and to continue providing the services hunters and anglers want. How much more? $1.50 for a hunting license and $3 for a fishing license—about the cost of a Mepps. Not much considering how much more it costs to do business now than it did in 2000. Remember when we thought gas was expensive at $1.60 a gallon?

Since the last time we adjusted prices, we’ve built new places to fish. We’ve started getting better information about fish and wildlife populations, helping us improve hunting and fishing. We’ve increased the amount of time conservation officers spend patrolling the backcountry. 

To continue, we need a modest fee increase. Without it, we’ll be back to the cycle of cutting services you’ve told us are important. In the tight budget years before the last fee increase, we cut what some called “fat.” Turns out, it wasn’t “fat.” Recently, we asked hunters, anglers, legislators and others to help set priorities and to tell us what we need to do better. More than 3,000 of you told us, “Get tough on poachers. Tell us more about fish and wildlife.  Get us involved and give us more places to hunt and fish.”

We heard you and we acted. We changed where we put our efforts. We shifted money into the priorities you identified. We freed up funds to start programs like Access Yes, opening private land to hunters and anglers. We gave conservation officers new tools to catch criminals. We improved the Fish and Game website and we’re finding new ways to make more information available to you.

You told us you liked what we’ve done, but that we need to do more. A couple dollars more per license will help do what you said is important. It will put volunteers on the ground improving mule deer winter range. It will help conservation officers catch hard-core poachers who steal your fish and wildlife. It will keep hatcheries running to stock lakes, streams and ponds so you can share your love of fishing with your kids. It will give you more places to hunt and fish by opening another 120,000 acres of private land to hunters and anglers.

We’re trying to give hunters and anglers what they want and keep hunting and fishing affordable. Giving Fish and Game commissioners the authority to change prices means you won’t see prices jump every 6 or 7 years. Instead, you’ll see smaller adjustments – just enough to keep up with rising costs. Each year, commissioners will look at the budget and meet with you—fellow hunters and anglers—before deciding what to charge. Sometimes, there may be no change. Other years, licenses and tags may go up 25 or 50 cents. 

We hear a lot about running government like a business. That’s what this would do. Prices will be in line with costs. If prices get too high, people will stop buying. It’s like any business, with one big difference; the Idaho legislature has the final word and can turn down a change in prices.

This approach makes sense. It keeps some of the best hunting and fishing in the country affordable. It gives Fish and Game the money needed to provide the services hunters and anglers want—increased enforcement of hunting and fishing rules, more information and involvement with fish and wildlife, and more access to private land for hunting and fishing.

Isn’t that worth the price of a fishing lure?

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funding, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, license fees

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