The Iowa Legislature passed a bill (HF 720) to increase hunting and fishing license fees and sent it to Governor Tom Vilsack for consideration. The bill primarily increases fees for people living outside of Iowa, but it also includes provisions that will make it a little more costly for Iowans to hunt and fish in this state. Licenses to hunt and fish in Iowa have cost the same since 1992.
The Fish and Wildlife Division of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is supported solely on license revenues, excise taxes paid on hunting and fishing equipment, and boat registration fees.
"After ten years without a license fee increase, inflation alone makes it difficult to maintain the level of service that hunters and anglers expect to have in Iowa," said Allen Farris, administrator for the DNR?s Fish and Wildlife Division. "Since 1965, fee increases have come every five to six years. We held off as long as we absolutely could, and I feel good about making it for as long as we did without increases."
The legislature?s proposal is to have the increases in affect for the 2002 hunting and fishing seasons. The 2002 licenses go on sale beginning December 15, 2001.
The legislation creates a fish habitat fee of $3 for residents and non-residents. This fee will be paid in addition to the regular fishing license by all anglers using public waters. The DNR and county conservation boards will use the receipts to improve fish habitat throughout the state.
Another feature of the legislation is to increase the wildlife habitat and migratory game bird fees. They are currently both $5.50 and the proposal increases them to $8.
The legislature also proposes to increase the number of non-resident licenses for deer and wild turkey. Currently, Iowa allows 7,500 non-residents to hunt deer and 1,500 of these must be for antlerless only deer. The bill increases the number of antlerless permits to 2,500, for a new total of 8,500 non-resident deer licenses. Non-residents that own land in Iowa are given a preference to obtain one of the 2,500 antlerless-only licenses. The number of non-resident licenses for wild turkey is increased from the current 2,000 to 2,300. One hundred fifty (150) of the non-resident wild turkey licenses are for muzzle loading shotguns only.
The bill contains a provision for an owner and tenant of a farm unit to purchase two antlerless-only deer licenses for a fee of $10 each. These two licenses are in addition to the free any-sex license currently available to landowners and tenants. The free and $10 antlerless-only licenses are only valid on the owner?s and tenant?s farm unit.
Given all the provisions in this bill, additional revenue into the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund is estimated to be $3.2 million a year. License sales currently bring in about $19.3 million and the Fish and Wildlife Division?s overall budget is currently about $30 million a year.
"Hunters and anglers provide a significant economic benefit to communities across Iowa," Farris said. In 1996, anglers spent nearly $340 million for goods and services generating an economic output of more than $650 million, supporting 9,118 jobs. Purchases related to fishing generated nearly $17 million in sales tax revenue. Hunters spent more than $400 million in 1996. Pheasant hunters alone pump an estimated $60 million annually into the Iowa economy in form of food, services, and other necessities.