TRIBUNE-REVIEW OUTDOORS EDITOR
Monday, October 24, 2005
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials have asked state legislators to raise the cost of hunting licenses, saying they need $20 million in new revenue by July 1, 2007, if they are to keep serving sportsmen and wildlife.
But what should a license increase look like?
A coalition of hunting organizations, led by the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, has attempted to answer that question by crafting one possible license fee proposal. It would raise license costs in time for the 2007-08 license year. It further calls for fees to go up automatically every two years thereafter based on the cost of living index.
Under the proposal, the cost of a general hunting license would go from $20 to $34. That includes the $1 per license issuing agent fee. Such an increase would raise about $7.4 million in new revenue alone.
Archery licenses would go up just a bit -- from $16 to $18 -- since archers now have to share one week of their early season with muzzleloader hunters. Muzzleloader hunters, meanwhile, would see their licenses go from $11 to $18 since they "gained" that week in October.
The cost of bear licenses would climb from $16 to $26. The cost of a furtaker license would climb from $20 to $22, while doe licenses fees would remain the same, at $6.
The proposal also calls for creation of a $6 turkey stamp and an $11 pheasant stamp. The $3 migratory game bird stamp waterfowl and dove hunters now have to buy would become a $10 stamp, since Pennsylvania, unlike other states, does not require them to buy a state duck stamp.
No junior hunter license fees would increase under the proposal. Junior hunters would also be exempt from having to buy any of the new stamps.
Senior hunters would feel a pinch, however. The cost of senior resident licenses would increase from $13 to $20, while senior resident lifetime licenses would go from $51 to $125. Senior resident lifetime combination licenses would go from $101 to $300.
The thinking is that lifetime licenses actually cost the state money by causing Pennsylvania to lose out on matching federal funds. With people living longer, too, lifetime licenses are a losing proposition, members of the coalition said.
Hunters who want to target a variety of species, but who don't want to go through the aggravation of applying for a host of stamps, would be able to buy a "sportsmen's package." It would include all licenses and stamps and applications for the elk and bobcat drawings, along with a subscription to the Pennsylvania Game News.
The package would cost something like $135, which would be a savings of about $20 if the licenses were bought separately.
Coalition members stressed that their proposal is just a starting point for discussions. None of the groups involved have signed off on it, nor have any lawmakers taken it up.