Spartan hunters and fishers might see an increase in efforts to keep nature beautiful in the Mitten, but it could come at the expense of up to $10 more in license fees.
Michigan Senate committees have been discussing Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to increase the cost of hunting and fishing licenses detailed in his 2014 budget recommendation. Snyder said the increase would generate about $18 million annually.
The estimated millions in additional revenue assumes license sales will decrease about 7 percent from fee increases.
The goal is to give the extra money to the Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, for improved conservation efforts, such as hiring additional officers, increasing public land management and repairing infrastructure.
Snyder’s budget document states his administration hopes to create a licensing model “simple to utilize, fairly priced for all customers and efficient for the department to administer.”
A license to hunt deer with a firearm or archery currently costs Michigan residents $15 and would increase to $20 under Snyder’s recommended changes.
The governor’s budget also proposes charging for an additional “base” license for any hunting or fishing, which will cost Michigan residents $10 and nonresidents $150.
Shawn Riley, an associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said raising license fees in other states hasn’t caused a drop in hunting and fishing participation.
He said like with any other fee increase, Michiganians will “grumble at first,” and feel better about paying the extra money when they see what they could gain from the additional revenue, such as improved stream access or healthier fish populations.
Riley said the DNR steadily has been receiving cuts throughout the years and needs the money to maintain conservation efforts.
“People want more and better services — we have to have revenue in order to pay for that,” he said.
MSU Fishing Club President Rob Nowicki spends the fall, spring and summer seasons fishing almost everyday in lakes and ponds across Michigan.
According to the DNR, a restricted season-long license, which allows fishers to catch everything but certain fish species, would increase from $7 to$15 and a nonrestricted season-long license will drop from $28 to $25.
Under the new budget proposal, the $15 basic fishing license for Michigan residents would be eliminated and all fishers would have to buy a $25 license, although it would be a season-long pass.
Compared to the rates he’s seen during his travels to other states for fishing competitions, Nowicki said Michigan’s fees are fairly inexpensive.
Michigan’s fee is about the median for fishing license prices in the U.S. — the highest fee is in Kansas at $57.50 and the lowest fee is in Hawaii at $5, according to Bridge Magazine.
Nowicki said it would be good to keep hunting fees lower because the state’s in need of more hunters to keep Michigan’s deer population at bay, but new fishing fees won’t keep him out of the water.
“I love fishing so much, I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra if they raise fishing fees,” he said. “I think it kind of depends on your love for the sport.”
The proposed license fee changes are still under discussion and would not take effect until March 1, 2014.