New license structure taking place

REED CITY — The state’s new fishing, hunting and ORV license structure began on March 1 and sportsmen are reminded of the new system which was approved last year by the state.

State officials contended that the new structure would make it easier to buy a license while providing more funds to improve outdoor opportunities for fishermen, hunters, trappers and ORV riders.

“By greatly reducing the number of license types and enhancing our sales system, we’re simplifying the license-buying process,” Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh said in a statement.

“This new structure keeps Michigan’s license costs competitive with other Great Lakes states, and makes a critical investment in our natural resources and outdoor recreation – putting more boots on the ground, waders in the water and eyes in the field.”

With the new changes, all fishing licenses will be good for all species.

Doug Loomis of Ed’s Sport Shop in Baldwin, agreed that sportsmen need to be aware of what’s going on.

“They’re not even asking,” he said. “There’s going to be a problem. There’s no more discount. Replacement of licenses left at home or whatever will be at original cost. They do have packages.”

A base license is mandated for all hunters, and, the DNR notes, allows hunters to hunt small game and purchase additional hunting licenses for other species.

“Outdoor enthusiasts can purchase a hunt/fish combo license that includes a base license, a deer combo license (two tags), and an all-species fishing license,” the DNR points out in a press release issued this week. “A single deer license, valid throughout archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons, replaces the separate archery and firearm licenses. The deer combo license remains available for hunters who wish to harvest two bucks.

“The license-buying process will also be improved, with streamlined options for simplified purchasing at retail agents and a new mobile option that will allow users to buy licenses using their smartphone or tablet and store non-kill tag licenses as a PDF on their mobile device.”

“When you get the base license, you get the small-game license whether or not you use it,” Loomis said. “If you’re a Michigan resident, you’re probably going to come out the same.”

Others feel the new system will be discouraging for others.

“It won’t hurt too much the fishing,” said Jolyn Hildabridle of the Eyes Have It of LeRoy. “It has its ups and downs. They expect to lose 7 percent of their clientale. They’re going to lose more than that as far as the fees go. A lot of guys are (angry) because there’s no reason for it to be so high. In order to hunt, you have to buy a basic (license), a small game license, and then you can buy a hunting license. Even if you buy four licenses, you don’t get the 15 percent anymore.

“You’d get 15 percent off your license if you bought four licenses. Now you can’t. There’s a lot of guys not happy that you can’t buy a basic fishing license. You buy an all species license. There’s guys who just fish for panfish. They shouldn’t have to buy an all species license. But that’s the way the DNR made it.”

Hildabridle said the $76 fee for all species nonresident annual license “is going to have an impact on our tourism. There’s a lot of tourists that won’t pay that much.”

Under the old system, “it was $15 for a basic fishing license, for panfishing and everything, and more dollars to it...$28 to fish for trout, you had that option,” Hildrabridle said. “You don’t have that option now. They made that option now.

“If you lose your license you have to buy another one. There’s no replacement fee of $3. Now you have to pay the full amount all over again.”

Rick Aube of Evart is an avid small game hunter.

“It’s good in some ways and bad in other ways,’” he said. “They’ve been wanting to raise the fees and they’re going to do that. They’re going to make guys buy licenses...if they’re deer hunters they’ll never use the other. I don’t know if that’s the right way to go or not.”

Debbie Munson Badini a spokesperson from the DNR’s Marquette office, indicated information has been distributed well enough to inform sportsmen adequately of the upcoming changes.

“There’s (most likely) other people not paying close attention,” Badini said. “What we’re doing now is making sure that those folks that maybe weren’t aware or didn’t have all the information available can have it.”

Badini acknowledged that there might still be skepticism amongst various sportsmen on merits of the new structure.

“Any time there’s change, no matter what it is, there’s going to be some (skepticism),” Badini said.

“Overall, it’s been well accepted. Changes made by the legislature were supported bi-partisanly. Sportsman groups from across the state have supported it. What we’re seeing across the board is that the majority is in favor. They knew the Department was struggling and needed to find a more stablefunding source to help us with conservation.”