Wisconsin DNR floats idea of raising hunting and fishing fees
Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources is telling state lawmakers that millions of dollars in higher hunting and fishing license fees may be needed.
In a memorandum to the Legislature's budget committee, the DNR outlined options that include higher license fees, cuts to wildlife and fish-stocking programs and further efforts to interest more people in hunting and fishing.
Wisconsin residents hunt and fish avidly, but the numbers of licenses sold has been decreasing, creating a large deficit in the department's budget, the report says.
The 46-page report was compiled in response to a state budget provision in which elected officials said they wanted options for filling the deficit. The report is dated Friday; it was released by the Legislature on Tuesday.
Among the other options the DNR presented are new ways tp package licenses for purchase, further efforts to recruit more license-buyers, an individual access fee for state wildlife and fishery areas and license gift certificates.
The representative who will chair the Assembly Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee this year quickly questioned the wisdom of fee increases and said the state needs to make hunting and fishing easier so that more people participate.
"If we help promote a climate that encourages new hunters and fishermen and women, the revenue shortfall goes away," said Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc. "Make it easier to hunt and fish."
Kleefisch suggested eliminating requirements for tagging carcasses, attract participants are younger ages, simplify rules for hunter safety, including prohibitions on crossing railroad tracks to gain access to hunting grounds
"You show people there’s a reason to get off the couch and away from the video games and into the great outdoors," Kleefisch said.