Local hunters, fishermen prepare for increases in license fees

REED CITY — Last Saturday and Sunday featured Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan but a recent announcement from the state points out that hunting and fishing will be somewhat more expensive, in some aspects, for Michigan sportsmen.

Michigan’s first significant increase in hunting and fishing license fees since 1997 was passed by the State House on Wednesday and now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be approved. The Department of Natural Resources estimates the increases would raise about $20 million more for wildlife, fisheries and habitat programs, which represents a 40 percent boost. The fee hikes, at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder, would start next March.

A House Fiscal Agency Analysis estimates that the current 227 types of hunting and fishing license fees would go to 40.

The DNR reports that the proposal would create a base hunting license that would charge $11 for in-state residents, with lower rates being applied for youths and senior citizens. Out-of-state hunters would see the price at $151 and the base license would pay for hunting waterfowl, migratory birds and rabbits and other small game.

The DNR adds that tags for deer would rise from $15 to $20, and the bear license from $15 to $25. A 24-hour fishing license would increase from $7 to $10. The fee for a seasonal all-species license would decrease from $28 to $25 for state residents, but jump from $42 to $75 for out-of-state

anglers.

John Wolfgang is involved in the Castaways bass fishing tournament that takes place near Osceola County in the Lake area. He is also a hunting guide and wasn’t thrilled to hear the news of the increase in fees.

“I think we’re having a hard enough time getting youth involved in hunting and fishing,” he said. “I don’t think increasing fees is going to help that, in my opinion. I work a lot with kids. I teach hunter’s safety. I think we’re losing the youth a lot today to video games and other interests. We’re losing them from the hunting and fishing sports. That’s a concern I have.

“The people already into hunting and fishing, I don’t think it’s going to influence. I’m still going to do the things I do. I don’t think it will help get new people involved.”

“It’s OK,” said Brian Boland of Remus, a turkey hunting guide. “Some licenses actually came down. One thing I heard is that people weren’t thrilled about is having everybody buy a $15 license for smallgame and waterfowl hunting. Their first respond is ‘I don’t smallgame hunt or duck hunt.’ They’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Ivan Giese of LeRoy called it an “OK” idea.

“I’m not oppose to doing it, but what I am opposed to is the amount of game to hunt,” he said. “There’s not a lot of it out there especially deer hunting, that’s one of the bad things I think they did, personally.”

Bill VanSyckle, a Morley Stanwood High School teacher indicated the license fee increase is a significant piece of action.

“I understand what they’re doing, VanSyckle said. “They have to insure that we have our DNR conservation officers out there. They’re working for us. We pay for their position and they’re doing the work for us. The one thing, and I might be wrong, is to discount rates for youth and seniors, I think that’s a good idea.

I don’t want to see them jack up the rates so our kids don’t go hunting. We don’t need to make it a financial barrier for hunting in our state. It gets pretty expensive. If you look at the number of people hunting, we’re less and less every year.”

Rick Delamater of Baldwin said, like the price of gas, everything seems to be going up.

“I can understand some pricing increases,” Delamater said. “I would rather have them do incrementals over the course of time instead of big jumps. People grumble but they still buy them. I don’t think it will hurt anything, personally.”