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Hunting for higher revenues

Published (3/23/2012)
By Bob Geiger
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Hit by declining federal funding and more than $2 million in fishing license sales revenues lost during the 2011 government shutdown, the Department of Natural Resources aims to shore up its ailing Game and Fish Fund with higher license fees.

Several sets of proposed higher angling and hunting fees were presented March 15 to the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. Bottom line: boost fees or the Game and Fish Fund will be exhausted by July 2013.

Bob Meier, assistant commissioner of policy and government relations for the DNR, said the sinking balance in the fund, which is fed primarily by hunting and fishing license revenues, is in dire need of replenishment.

Meier spoke during a presentation of HF1583, sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), which outlines a variety of angling and hunting license fee increases. Meier outlined a “new forecasts, new urgency” situation that resulted in a

$7.6 million fund decrease over the last year.

No action was taken on the bill.

Fee changes proposed in the bill include increases in resident fishing licenses from $17 to $24; married couple fishing license from $25 to $40; and individual resident deer hunting licenses from $26 to $30. Additional revenue is expected in the next year from a $26 wolf hunting license and $44 bear hunting license.

Meier said if fees aren’t increased soon, Minnesotans will feel a “drastic impact” on their hunting and fishing experience.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar), said, “We need to get our youth out hunting and fishing.”

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