Idaho Experiencing Loss from Non-Resident Hunters

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The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has seen a decrease of 3 million dollars since 2008. The marked decrease in revenue also shows a large decrease in non-resident hunters. The downturn of the economy has definitely sparked that loss, with less hunters traveling for their elk or deer harvests.

The lost revenue creates a double-edged sword as the Department of Fish and Game cuts back, there will be less in services. If there are no aerial surveys, the quotas will be smaller. The conservation mindset sets in when there is not a reliable survey on big game herd populations.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game is not the only one noticing lost revenue, the outfitters have fewer clients, and small towns lose revenue from fewer hunters as well. From


Idaho losing hunters

Could it be because Idaho raised non resident license and tag fees approximatly 15% in 2009 and no increase for residents....


BikerRN's picture

Very well typed replies

There are some very well thought out, and logical, responses to this blog.

I think as states tighten their belts, reduce services, out of state hunters will take notice of the reduced services which will lead to a decrease in the desire to hunt out of state. Now if there are enough hunters in state that game populations are still managed effectively this isn't much of an issue. However if the in state hunters aren't able to bring about the desired game management goals, and a reduction in agency budgets, the long term effects of this could be felt for years to come.


COMeatHunter's picture

That's a bit disappointing to

That's a bit disappointing to hear Idaho is losing non-resident hunting revenues.  It's even more disappointing to hear their response is to cut the DOW budget and perhaps give up some essential management tools as a result.  Makes me scratch my head a bit.

Hunting as been a great economic engine for many western states for a long time.  Perhaps those states have become a bit complacent and take the revenue generated by hunting for granted.  Rather than continuing to invest dollars into their wildlife resources to keep them healthy and keep public access high, they've just ridden the wave of revenue figuring the hunters would always continue to throw their dollars into the state's coffers.  Rather than realize they are selling a product (wildlife resources) to a consumer (hunters) and look for ways to recover the revenues and provide a better product, they do exactly the opposite.

Last year (or maybe the year before) Colorado launched a pretty significant marketing and "customer service" effort to attract non-resident hunters.  Of course, this included a national advertising campaign, but it also included adding additional resources to help interested out of state hunters in understanding the regs, how to apply for hunts, etc.  All of these efforts were in response to lower non-resident revenues.  They didn't cut back on essential functions, they reacted to the marketplace and worked to provide a better product and try to tell more hunters about their product.  I haven't heard how successful this effort has been, but I would guess it's been positive thus far.

The amount of disposable income is certainly less in a bad economy and this will definitely have a negative impact on industries such as hunting.  But Idaho seems to have just given up on good business management principles and has started packing it in.  Good luck getting those non-resident revenues back.  And too bad for the local economies that are no doubt seeing the effects of lower out of state hunters dumping dollars into their hotels, restaurants and stores.  I'd be a be pissed if I lived in Idaho.

RayChez's picture

Decline in out of state hunters

The economy has had some impact on some hunters, but many out of state hunters are staying away from states like Utah because most of the good hunting area's have been sold out by the local ranchers to outfitters.  Out of state license and tag are over two hundred dollars, plus the expense of diesel or gasoline to get from another state to the hunting area's can run several hundred dollars.  Expense to hunt out of state now days can run several thousand dollars, which is not bad if you didn't have to pay the rancher or outfitter another five hundred.  

It has become a rich mans sport.  In order for the out of state hunter to return deer tags will have to be lowered by at least fifty percent.  That will bring in out of state money into the small towns.  Hunting will be something to look forward to. 

hunter25's picture

Like the others have said,

Like the others have said, some of this was inevitable with the econemy situation. There was a report in Colorado a couple of years ago that showed how non resident applications were in fact down but resident sales were up due to more hunters staying home rather than head back to the places they were originally from. Overall I don't think we lost too much but it has had an impact. I hate to see tags reduced and opportunity lost due to factors like this though. I am fortunate in that my job has been steady and I'm at a point in my life where I have more disposable income than ever and have been able to enjoy many out of state hunts the last few years. Nothing huge but just good fun hunts. I have been steered away from places like Montana with the big increas though and i really wanted to hunt there, I still have to go where the best deals are to get the most out of what I have.

Retired2hunt's picture

  No disagreements from me


No disagreements from me with any of the posts.  This will be widespread through many states that count on non-resident hunters for their additional revenue.  And this will definitely have a trickle-down affect on the other business owners.  The loss of non-resident hunters' revenue could be lowered or switched by more resident hunters buying the leftover tags but this also has a peak where it becomes financially prohibitive to the resident hunter.

What I do question is how does less aerial surveys lead to decreased hunting quotos?  I think that is an emotional statement to generate some type of wanted reaction - what that reaction is I don't know.  Solution - Find a less expensive or alternative means to determine animal populations then.  Lowering quotas only decreases revenue as the article and official states.  I would say if decreasing aerial surveys is in the near future then it is time to experiment NOW and have these regional supervisors provide their estimates using some other means and compare that to some aerial surveys.  The outcome would be to build a formula that would eliminate the human conservative quotient so quotas are generated closest to the existing method.  Can we use satellite shots instead?

Bottom line here is that many states if not all will have some loss revenues due to less hunting dollars being spent.  The smart states will react and act quickly to trim budget "fat " and create more hunters and hunting opportunities while properly managing their wildlife resources.


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Well, as you have all stated,

Well, as you have all stated, it comes down to cost.  In this economy, everyone is cutting back, and out of state hunts are one of the first places they will be affected.  The prices are pretty high for someone who either is not working at all, or at least very little.  The losses they will suffer, as Mike mentioned, go beyond the licenses, but reach to hotels, food, supplies, etc.  The economic impact is widespread.

I don't know if any of you are experiencing the same thing, b ut I notice the effect on local tags in my area.  Here in San Diego county, they give out 1,000 archery tags, and 3,000 rifle buck tags.  Each year, you could always count on shooting a deer, then just walking into any DFG office and buying a second tag.  There were plenty left, they never sold out in the lottery.  However, in the last 2 years, each of those tags have sold out prior to the season starting, or very close to that.  Sure, the hunting is a little better, so more people may be interested, but in my opinion it also has to do with hunters staying close to home and not doing the non-resident hunts.

I still think they need to lower their fees some.  My wife couldn't believe how "expensive" it was this past weekend for me to hunt in Vermont.  I got an out of state license, which I can kill all small game with, plus it comes with one buck tag, and a bear tag.  All for $100.  I wish it was that "expensive" out here... :wink:  But when the economy gets better, so should the out of state hunters visiting Idaho and other western states.

groovy mike's picture

We can only hope that they learn from this....

Goosehunter JR – I had the same thought that you did.  I was considering some out of state hunts that I have now ruled out simply because of the cost of the license for a non-resident hunter.  I will probably never hunt in Montana where I was seriously considering a hunt because they have raised the cost of a non-resident license so much that I am unwilling to pay it.  I think that a lot of states are finding the same circumstance.  Money is tight and they see the non-resident hunter as an easy income source without angering their tax paying and voting resident population, but the end result is less revenue rather than more.  The cost of the licenses keeps that income from non-residents from flowing into the state both as the cost of licenses, gasoline, lodging, food and all the other millions of dollars that hunters pour into the economy of the rural areas and airport hubs where they had been travelling to hunt in the past.   I know Montana has lost my disposable income, I suspect that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be seeing the same result in their end of year calculations.  We can only hope that they learn from their mistakes and take corrective actions in future years.  

Tndeerhunter's picture


I've hunted Idaho twice for big game. Mule deer in '05 and spring bear in '11. I'd figure a large part of the reason out-of-state hunters are staying away in droves is due to the severe predation problems wolves have caused in many areas of the state. I'll likely not go back to Idaho again either after the very poor effort put forth by our outfitter this spring. I guess some of the guides & outfitters are doing anything to collect $$ as their hunting declines. It was certainly the poorest effort I've ever seen put forth on any guided hunt. 

GooseHunter Jr's picture

I would not be surprised to

I would not be surprised to hear of alot of states that are having the same issue.  Makes you wonder if they will make the cosyt by uping the cost of the licenses for residents and non-residents.  Raising it only a few dollars might make up some of it, but it could also keep some hunters from still coming to other states.