New hunting licenses raise $6 million for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
By Joel Wilcox, THG Outdoors
A mistake made by an Indiana Department of Natural Resources employee paid off big this fall as the agency collected an additional $6 million in hunting license fees.
Last March, when hastily trying to meet his deadline for publishing this year’s hunting license fees, Indiana DNR publications director Edgar Marcum mistakenly made two new additions to the brochure: a $15 fee to obtain a license to hunt black bear and a similar fee for hunting mountain lions.
It seems that Marcum, in a hurry to finish the publication, cut and pasted information from the Montana Department of Natural Resources website onto a Microsoft Word document to save time. He did not proofread the brochure before it went to print.
Before the DNR noticed the error, the brochure was in sporting goods stores and taxidermists’ shops around the state. Since Indiana has no mountains and hasn’t had wild bears living in the state for generations, DNR officials decided not to recall the brochures. They thought that Hoosiers would realize that it was indeed an error and ignore those license fees.
They had no idea how this mistake would be a tremendous windfall for the cash-strapped agency.
When summer rolled around and Indiana hunters started buying their yearly licenses, most immediately noticed the additional black bear and mountain lion licenses that were available. Thousands of hunters purchased these so they could hunt new, more exciting species.
“I just figured that bears and mountain lions had been taken off the endangered list or something so we could hunt them,” said Orangeville resident Doug Barnhill. “I was looking forward to bagging one. I already got a mess of deer heads hanging in my living room.”
After seeing how much money the new fees were bringing in, the DNR decided to advertise and promote the sale of the licenses. TV and radio stations around the state played commercials touting them.
By the time hunting season began, the Indiana DNR had sold a combined 400,000 black bear and mountain lion hunting licenses.
It wasn’t until Marcum’s conscience got to him that he went public with the DNR’s secret; there really were no new species roaming the wilds of The Hoosier State.
By this time the damage had been done. Hunters were out over $6 million dollars, money that went to the DNR’s general fund.
Hunters statewide were outraged, and many threatened legal action. The DNR was undaunted.
“We never said there were black bear or mountain lions in our ads,” said DNR director John Bacone, “All we said was that the licenses were available. We violated no laws.”
To appease Indiana’s angry hunters, the Department of Natural Resources recently released some of the new species into the wild. Three elderly mountain lions from the Indianapolis Zoo and a dancing black bear named Fluffer from the Hadi Shrine Circus now make their homes in Hoosier National Forest.
Sat, 2010-05-08 20:22
Indiana DNR ripping off hunters!