Hunting, fishing license fee hikes gaining support

Published 7:59 am Sunday, March 18, 2012

Legislators, state employees, outdoor enthusiasts and environmental groups are showing more support the second time around for legislation that would raise hunting and fishing license fees in Minnesota.

“I think that there is a certain amount of a learning curve where a lot of people learned about the need last year, and when it comes to this legislative session there’s not so much bringing people up to speed,” said Jeanine Vorland, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager.

Though the DNR proposed license fee hikes in 2011, no legislation was passed. The bill is gaining more support this year and unanimously passed the Minnesota Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.

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The DNR and other state officials have been monitoring the Game and Fish Fund — which the DNR uses for hunting and fishing regulatory measures and law enforcement — and they expect it to lose much more revenue in the next year than previously thought.

According to the DNR, last year’s state government shutdown cost the Game and Fish Fund $2.2 million because people could not purchase licenses during that period. Furthermore, the DNR said a federal budget forecast shows the DNR losing more than $5 million because of a decline in direct license revenue and declines in two fish and game reimbursement programs. Last year the DNR expected its Game and Fish funds to dip into the red by 2014, now it expects that to happen by as early as July 2013.

The DNR has not increased license fees in almost 12 years; and some DNR officials were hoping for increases much earlier, so the DNR would not be in such a dire position. Regardless, people are paying closer attention to the game and fish legislation this year. Furthermore, most hunters and fishers may not be upset by the proposed increases.

“There is nobody I know who isn’t going to buy a license if (fees) go up,” said Justin Hanson, an outdoorsman and resource specialist for the Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District. “People are going to grumble a little bit, but it’s not going to make that big of a difference.”

Vorland said her fellow employees also strongly support fee increases, and she also knows many resident anglers and hunters who are not opposed to fee hikes. Brian Landherr of rural Rose Creek said higher prices won’t prevent him from buying licenses, either. However, he mentioned he would like to see funds from those increases go toward more management and enforcement practices in southern Minnesota, something he believes other areas of Minnesota are receiving the lion’s share of.

Under the new legislation, resident fishing licenses would increase from $17 to $22 ($24 proposed by the DNR), small game licenses from $19 to $22 and deer hunting licenses from $26 to $30. Many add-on, small game stamps — like pheasant and duck stamps — will remain the same price. Furthermore, the DNR has proposed a wealth of new options, such as more short-term licenses, non-resident licenses and hunting-fishing combo licenses. For example, a Minnesota resident would be able to purchase a Super Sport license that includes general fishing, small game, deer, duck, pheasant and trout for $99. If the game and fish legislation passes this session, the new fees would take effect March 1, 2013, as the DNR’s license year begins in March.

The bill is receiving some bipartisan support, and Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, may also support the bill, as long as it doesn’t receive any unreasonable amendments or unrelated additions.

“I look forward to seeing it on the Senate floor,” he said.

He added, “I think it’s a very small increase, and I think that the DNR will use those dollars to continue to support those areas we use to hunt and fish in the state of Minnesota.”

The DNR has campaigned for license fee increases for more than a year via its website, which contains revenue projections, license options and other media. For more information, visit


Proposed increases to resident hunting and fishing licenses

  • Deer: from $26 to $30
  • Small game: from $19 to $22
  • Turkey: from $23 to $26
  • Fishing: from $17 to $22
  • 24-hour fishing: from $8.50 to $10


Several new license options

  • Super Sport (includes fishing, small game, deer, duck, pheasant and trout): $99
  • Married couple Super Sport: $125
  • 3-day small game: $19
  • Annual small game (stamps included): $37
  • 90-day angling: $18
  • 3-day angling: $12
  • 3-year angling: $69



— The Associated Press contributed to this report