Sportsmen are being asked to support efforts to raise hunting and fishing license fees. DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) has cut services to sportsmen over the years because of mandated budget cuts, and WRD says more money would allow the agency to return those services and also enhance and start new efforts.
Georgia’s resident license fees haven’t increased since 1992, and Georgia’s current fees are either the least expensive or close to it in every category among 16 Southeastern states.
So far there are no specific details on what programs WRD might implement to help hunters and anglers, but sportsmen are encouraged to give their opinions on a license-fee increase and what they’d like to see WRD do with additional funding.
Seven open meetings are being held this month. Sportsmen should certainly attend. It’s your money.
WRD has offered a potential license-fee concept that would do away with some of the ancillary licenses like the WMA stamp, while increasing fees on remaining resident licenses. A big-game hunting license would increase from $19 to $40; general hunting from $10 to $15; fishing $9 to $15; combo hunting and fishing $17 to $25. A Sportsman’s Combo would be the deal, increasing only from $55 to $60.
Meanwhile, a plan being promoted by former WRD Fisheries Biologist Les Ager and the Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) would double resident license fees across the board, but would be contingent on legislators granting a state-tax exemption on hunting and fishing equipment for anyone with a resident Georgia hunting or fishing license. Sportsmen would save about 7 percent (depending on the sales tax in your county) on guns, ammo, fishing rods, outboard motors and a long, pre-set list of items. It’s a very interesting, very ambitious plan that would generate a windfall for WRD and would basically take the whims of the state legislature out of the annual WRD budget equation.
Under the sales-tax-exemption plan, if you buy a sportsman’s license, you’d need to make about $850 in tax-free purchases a year to cover the doubling of your license fee. If you’re in the market for an outboard, that’s a windfall for you as well as WRD.
The open meetings, comments and survey are important. Sportsmen should have a significant, primary voice in how their money is used. Also, discuss at forum.gon.com.
WRD License-Fee Open Meetings
All meetings 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
June 15: Gainesville Civic Center
Chattahoochee Room, 830 Green Street NE, Gainesville, GA 30501
June 16: Baxley City Hall
City Council Meeting Room, 282 East Parker Street, Baxley, GA 31513
June 17: Richmond Hill City Center
520 Cedar Street (in J.F. Gregory Park), Richmond Hill, GA 31324
June 22: Grace Fellowship Church
1971 South Main Street, Greensboro, GA 30642
June 23: Red Top Mtn State Park
Group Shelter #1, 50 Lodge Road SE, Cartersville, GA 30121
June 24: Darton College
Room J121-123, 2400 Gillionville Road, Albany, GA 31707
June 25: Miller-Murphy-Howard Building Conference Room, Georgia National Fairgrounds
401 Larry Walker Parkway, (Exit 135 off I-75), Perry, GA 31069
For more on the efforts to raise license fees, visit georgiawildlife.com/aimforsuccess. Submit comments, and also take part in an online survey.