Hikes in hunting, fishing license fees meant to add staff and aid habitat

by Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press  |  published on February 9, 2013

Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2013-14 budget proposes double-digit percentage hikes to Michigan’s hunting and fishing license fees as part of a plan to hire more conservation officers and improve the state’s habitat for fish and game.

If approved by the Legislature, the license fee increases would be the first since 1997, according to Department of Natural Resources officials. The cost of a deer tag in Michigan is among the lowest in the nation, spokesman Ed Golder said.

Keith Creagh, the DNR director, said the state’s natural resources, including parks, lakes and trails, are so important to its tourism industry that he sees the investments proposed Thursday as key to the state’s long-term recovery from the recent decade-long recession.

Part of the plan involves increasing the annual amount raised from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses by 38%, from $48.2 million to $66.6 million.

But much of the impact would be felt more by nonresidents than by residents. For example, the plan includes a new base hunting license fee of $10 for Michigan residents and $150 for nonresidents.

Kent Wood, legislative affairs manager for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said his group is cautiously optimistic about the proposals, though it wants more details about how the current fee money is being used.

“As long as we’re comfortable that the folks paying the fees are going to get some sort of outcome, some sort of benefit from it … our members have told us they will be supportive,” Wood said.

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