Archived Story

DNR license fees could rise, change structure

Published 3:19pm Friday, March 4, 2011

Minnesota hunters and anglers could see many of their license fees go up soon, if the fee increases proposed by the state Department of Natural Resources are approved in Governor Mark Dayton’s biennium budget bill.

However, Don Schultz, the area wildlife supervisor in Fergus Falls, said that the proposed changes in fees, known as the Hunting and Fishing Heritage Initiative, are more than just a price hike.

Schultz said that the “license restructuring” proposed by the DNR is designed to do two things: increase revenue to the department’s fish and game fund, which is scheduled to run out of money by 2015, and increase the accessibility of licenses to better serve a large demographic of sportsmen and women.

“As it stands right now, there hasn’t been a general fee increase since 2001,” Schultz said. “That fund, if something isn’t done, is scheduled to go in the red.”

With that in mind, most resident and non-resident licenses will have their fees raised under the DNR’s proposal. Some common resident licenses that would see an increase include the annual individual angling license (going from $17 to $24), the traditional deer hunting license ($26 to $30) and the traditional small game hunting license ($19 to $22). Some of the biggest increases for commonly accessible licenses would see price jumps of $8 or $9.

“There was actually a whole process here when we had a consulting firm survey our resident and non-resident license buyers,” Schultz said. In the survey, license buyers were asked questions related to how much they would be willing to spend on licenses, as well as what kinds of new license options they would enjoy.

With that in mind, the proposed changes would also roll out some new or modified options, most of them aimed at getting youth and less serious anglers and hunters involved in fish and game.

Many of the residential and non-residential fees for youth hunting and fishing licenses have been lowered, and the DNR hopes to introduce a broader range of traditional angling and small game licenses.

For example, resident fishermen could choose from an annual, three-year, 90-day, or 3-day angling license. A three-day small game hunting license would also be added to the mix, as well as an expanded sport combo package.

Prices and licenses are subject to change as the legislation makes its way through the Legislature.

Schultz explained that some area residents will get an in-depth look at the plan on March 16, when Pheasants Forever will host a private meeting to explain the proposal to local outdoors leaders.

“We invited people from lake associations (and) sportsman’s groups … and the idea is to educate them, and they can go back and explain to their groups what the initiative is,” said Schultz. He added that the local representatives of the DNR will also take input on the plan during the meeting.

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