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Higher fees likely for Montana hunters and anglers

Every ten years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks goes back to the drawing board to look at fees, license costs, and its budget.

Administrator of Communication and Education Ron Aasheim said a Council recently came out with a series of recommendations including raising fees on hunting and fishing licenses. Aasheim said without a fee increase, redirected funding, or budget cuts, the agency is facing a $5.7-million shortfall by the end of 2017.

“It takes about a year and a half following legislative action, assuming they do approve some changes, to actually start seeing the revenue. That’s why we’re doing this now, we’re solid through 2017 because of some budget cuts and some additional federal funding that we used to replace license dollars, we just aren’t in good shape after 2017, that’s why we’re going to the people now,” Aasheim said.

Aasheim said 65 to 70-percent of the departments’ revenue comes from hunting and fishing license fees.

The state Director of FWP put together the Licensing and Funding Advisory Council at the request of the governor.

The Council came up with a series of recommendations:

  • Creation of a $10 base hunting license you would buy before any other licenses
  • General fishing license costs would increase from $18 to $24
  • Standardizing discounted youth, disabled, and senior licenses at 50% of the cost of the general license
  • Increasing the age for “seniors” from 62-to-67-years-old
  • Exploring additional revenue sources outside hunting and angling licenses

This last recommendation is one Aasheim said is an idea many others have been voicing.
“All Montanans and visitors benefit from the management activities associated with this agency, and they’re funded largely by people who purchase hunting and fishing licenses. Those who do not purchase a license, they benefit in other ways and they also have some impact on management. The group said, hey, let’s take a look, they didn’t make any recommendations, they said hey, our charge was licensing, we do think, though, that that needs to be addressed,” Aasheim said.

FWP is holding a series of public meetings about the recommendations across the state through the month of May:

  • May 1             Missoula          DoubleTree Hotel 100 Madison
  • May 5             Butte                Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives 17 W. Quartz St.
  • May 6             Glasgow          Cottonwood Inn 45 1st Ave NE
  • May 13           Bozeman         FWP Region 3 HQ 1400 S. 19th Ave.
  • May 15           Great Falls      FWP Region 4 HQ 4600 Giant Springs Road
  • May 19           Kalispell          FWP Region 1 HQ 490 N. Meridian Road
  • May 20          Helena             Montana Wild Center 2668 Broadwater Ave
  • May 27           Miles City       FWP Region 7 HQ 352 I-94 Business Loop
  • May 28           Billings           FWP Region 5 HQ 2300 Lake Elmo Drive      
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