June 13, 2002

Conservation Commission Approves Resident Hunting And Fishing Fee Increases For 2003-2004

Missourians will pay more for hunting and fishing permits next year as a result of new permit fees approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission May 30. In approving the increase, the four commissioners cited the need to maintain conservation programs and the importance of ensuring that hunters and anglers continue to have a wide range of hunting and fishing activities.

At its May meeting, the Conservation Commission approved permit fee increases ranging from 50 cents to $2. Conservation Department Deputy Director John Smith said the increases are the first since 1999, when resident permit fees increased by $1 to $4.

"It has been three years since we had a permit fee increase," said Smith, "and the cost of doing

business - even conservation business - does go up a little every year. And like everyone else, the Conservation Department has been affected by the recent economic downturn."

The increases will go into effect March 1, 2003, the beginning of the 2003-2004 permit year. The price of Daily Fishing Permits will increase from $5 to $5.50. The price for Resident Fishing Permits will

increase from $11 to $12, and Resident Small-Game Hunting Permits will increase from $9 to $10.

Daily hunting permits will increase from $10 to $11. The cost of the combination Hunting and Fishing Permit remains unchanged at $19.

Permit fees increasing by $2 are Resident Fall Firearms Turkey ($11 to $13), Resident Archery ($17 to $19), Resident Firearms Deer ($15 to $17), Resident Managed Deer ($15 to $17), Resident Spring Turkey ($15 to $17) and Youth Deer and Turkey ($15 to $17).

Denny Ballard, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the state's largest citizen conservation group, said his organization supports the permit fee increases.

"Sportsmen and sports women are extremely pleased with the Conservation Department's new

programs for them" said Ballard. "New youth seasons, more liberal deer hunting seasons and limits,

outstanding fishing opportunities - and Missouri permit fees are still low compared to other states."

Conservation Department's Fiscal Services Section projects that the increase in resident permit fees, along with increases in nonresident fees approved earlier, will boost agency revenues by $185,000 this

year, and by approximately $1.1 million in Fiscal Year 2003. After the permit price increases go into effect, approximately 23 percent of the agency's revenues will come from permit sales.

Smith said keeping permit fee revenues constant compared to total Conservation Department income is being faithful to the agency's commitment to hunters and anglers. Ever since Missouri voters approved the one-eighth of one-percent sales tax for conservation, said Smith, hunters and anglers have worried about how the sales tax would affect their status.

"The concern has been that more and more of the Conservation Department's funding would come from the sales tax, and as their permit fees made up less and less of our budget, their interests would get less and less attention," said Smith. "The Commission understood this concern and thought it was a reasonable one. So several years ago the Conservation Commission decided that it would not allow

permit revenues to decrease as a percentage of total Conservation Department revenue. Most hunting and fishing groups like the policy. They like knowing that hunting and fishing will always be an important part of conservation in Missouri."

Smith said he believes most Missouri anglers and hunters have supported permit fee increases because they see results from their investments. "Our deer herd is thriving," he said. "We have the best turkey hunting in the nation, hands down, and people come from far and wide to catch monster paddlefish, trophy trout, walleyes, muskie, bass and panfish."

Smith said the quality of Missouri's hunting and fishing is no accident. "We conduct scientific research to provide the basis for fish and wildlife management decisions, and we have a top-notch staff to

implement them. Hunters and anglers have always supported fish and game management in Missouri, and I think they always will."

Even with the increases, Missouri's resident hunting and fishing permit fees remain below those of most other states. Minnesota charges residents $18 for an annual fishing permit. The fee is $19 in Texas, $20 in New Hampshire and $30.45 in California. Lower-priced fishing permits are available in Louisiana ($9.50 plus $5.50 for a saltwater fishing permit) and North Dakota ($11).

Resident Small-game hunting permits sell for $7 in North Dakota, $11 in Virginia, $14 in Wisconsin, $15 in Louisiana, $17 in Minnesota, $19 in Texas and $31 in New Hampshire and California.

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