License Fee Proposal: It’s Time To TalkFebruary 8th, 2013 by thansen.
As soon as the Governor’s budget was released, all manner of chaos began to ensue. Why? Because a few media outlets reported that “deer hunting license fees would double.”
I won’t call it sensational journalism. But it does make for a snappy headline. It’s also not the entire story.
Deer license fees would, in fact, double under the proposal. But that’s not all the proposal would do. It would also reduce the price of a small game license, reduce the price of an all-species fishing license and it might also create a license system that’s a bit easier to understand.
What the Governor is proposing is an entirely revamped license system that would feature a base hunting license good for small game and waterfowl. That license would cost $10. Which, of course, is a $5 savings over the current cost of a small game license.
Then to hunt deer, turkeys, bears, etc. you’d buy a “tag” for the base license. So the base license costs $10, a deer tag $20. Total cost: $30. So, yes, that’s twice what a current deer license costs.
As a deer hunter, I can’t say that I’m all warm and fuzzy over the thought of paying more for a deer license. At the same time, I don’t mind the fact that my fishing license fee would be reduced as well as the cost of a small game license.
That said, I certainly understand why people are a bit annoyed with the prospects of a fee increase. And there’s no question that part of the reasoning behind the new license fee structure is to raise additional revenue for the DNR.
We haven’t had a fee increase since 1996 and I’m pretty sure the costs of doing business for everyone have risen pretty dramatically since then. So, on the surface, I can understand the need for raising prices.
But this is the DNR we’re talking about. And the last time we had this discussion, things weren’t quite what they seemed. Does that mean we should vehemently oppose this move? Does it mean we should hold a grudge?
I don’t think so. I think what it means is that we need to enter into this process with our eyes wide open. And that’s precisely what MUCC is doing. MUCC has not endorsed anything at this point except for one simple fact: MUCC will insist that our members (and the hunting, fishing and trapping public) be shown where our current fees are spent and exactly where any additional revenues will be administered.
None of us should fundamentally oppose the plan right out of the gate. Nor should we blindly support it. We need to learn from mistakes of the past and learn that it is we, the outdoors community, that will ultimately decide whether we are willing to support the DNR and conservation. We have a choice: Do we buy licenses or not?
Most hunters, anglers and trappers believe in supporting conservation and science-based wildlife management. Show us that our license fees will be spent correctly and in areas that matter to us and we will listen to the options. Shut us out of those discussions, hide behind a pile of jargon and double-talk and we will not support the plan. It’s really that simple.
Hunters, anglers and trappers are willing to listen. But we are not willing to simply be talked at.
In the coming days, MUCC will outline the new license proposal and raise the type of questions that we should raise. They are the very same questions you’re likely asking yourselves.
Will we really see more Conservation Officers on the ground?
Will additional funding be spent on actual wildlife management or will it just be spent on more bureaucracy?
Will additional funding be spent to address the shortcomings we’ve all been told are the result of not having enough money?
Those questions will be answered openly and honestly. And we will share those answers with you.
Because, without them, no one can justify any type of change in the license structure or a fee increase.