The new Senior Lifetime Hunting, Trapping and Fishing License, which becomes effective January 1, 2012, is now available for purchase, according to DNR Director Frank Jezioro. The one-time fee for the Class XS License is $25.
“Hunters and anglers can buy the license in person at the DNR South Charleston headquarters or they can obtain a form at any license agent or DNR district office and send it in to our headquarters,” said Jezioro. “I want to emphasize that the license will not be required for our hunters and anglers who turn 65 before January 1, 2012 or those who already have a lifetime license. In addition, it will not change the existing privileges of our senior landowners.”
Purchase of the Senior Lifetime License will allow seniors to hunt for small game, turkey and bear, and for deer during the archery, youth, buck-gun and muzzleloader seasons. License holders will also be able to fish for both trout and warmwater fish, as well as trap furbearing animals. Seniors, other than landowners hunting on their own land, will still have to buy the required stamps to hunt during the antlerless deer seasons or to harvest additional deer.
“In approving the legislation, the legislature added the opportunity for Class XS license holders to hunt during the annual Special Split Youth and Class Q seasons,” Jezioro said. “Seniors who turn 65 before January 1, 2012, who wish to hunt during those seasons starting in 2012, would be able to buy the Senior Lifetime License.”
Jezioro emphasizes that the Class XS License can be bought no sooner than 90 days before an individual’s 65th birthday and that the license is not valid until their actual birth date.
The West Virginia Legislature established the new lifetime license to permit the DNR to capture tax money which West Virginia seniors were already spending on hunting and fishing equipment. Jezioro explained, “Hunters pay a tax on hunting and fishing equipment which is given back to the states based partially on the number of licensed hunters and anglers. In the past, when our seniors became 65 and no longer had to buy a license, we could no longer count them as a license buyer. As a result, that reduced our apportionment of the taxes that they were spending on new equipment and ammunition.
“We estimate that the license fee itself will bring in approximately $150,000 in 2012 and should increase in future years. In addition, we believe we will capture about $31,500 of funds from the federal government that our hunters and anglers already spend on sporting equipment and ammunition, an amount that will also increase in the future.”
By law, the money the DNR receives must be spent only for fish and wildlife management efforts. Jezioro said, “We plan to spend the additional money for additional access for the mobility-impaired hunter, improvements to and operation of the state’s fish stocking program, and construction of additional shooting ranges. These programs will benefit our senior sportsmen.”