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Hunting and Fishing License Bill Up in Committee

May 14th, 2013

The “implementation bill” for the license fee restructuring and simplification has finally been introduced. House Bill 4668 was introduced two weeks ago by Rep. Jon Bumstead, chair of the House Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, and a committee hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, May 8 where they took testimony.

To recap, the House and Senate have approved the budget with money from a license fee increase incorporated into the plan. These appropriations bills (SB 188 and HB 4328) still must be approved by the opposite chamber and likely go to conference committee to work out the differences. The Governor put the deadline for this as June 1.

Next comes the details, which we have been waiting to see in print for 3 months now. HB 4668 incorporates a revised fee schedule, with some changes incorporated into it from what the Governor proposed back in February. This new proposal would raise approximately $19.7 million once fully implemented and includes a 5-year sunset, which allows us to evaluate the intended and unintended consequences and outcomes of this additional funding.

Among the major changes and additions are:

  • 24-hour Fishing license now $10, and 72-Hour for $30 (resident or non-resident)
  • Limited Small Game Non-resident (7-day)-$80 (Non-resident Base license ($150) not required for this unless other species will be hunted as well)
  • Waterfowl hunting license reinstated for $12 (includes entry to Managed Waterfowl Areas)
  • Reinstated the bear participation license (no kill tag) for $15
  • Free Survey Tags (for certain furbearing species)
  • Change in the Mentored Youth license from issuing a combination deer license to a single deer license as part of the license package.
  • Creation of a Combination Hunt and Fish License package, which would include a base license, combination deer license, and all-species fishing license, $75 for a resident, $265 for non-resident.
  • Creation of a $1 surcharge on base, fishing, and Combination Hunt and Fish licenses that would be reserved specifically for marketing, education, and outreach activities. This was modeled off of a Colorado program that has shown significant improvement in non-hunter’s acceptance and support of hunting.

Our concerns include some items that were not retained in the new legislation, including:

  • Elimination of the voluntary $2 youth angler license for youth 10-16, which can be used to “count” youth as anglers for purposes of federal Dingell-Johnson funding—we have recently learned that only about 120 of these licenses were regularly sold annually and agree the elimination of this license makes sense;
  • Across the board discounts for youth ages 10-16  (Junior) hunting licenses. Junior hunters currently pay only $15 for a junior combination deer license, $7.50 for a junior fur harvesters, and $1 for junior small game. Under the new proposal, they have a discounted $5 base license, but then would pay full price for the additional tags. For small game, fur harvesters, and a combo deer licenses (those currently discounted) this amounts to a 255% increase (from $23.50 to $60).

We recommended adding a Combination Hunt and Fish Junior License for $30 (a 60% discount from an adult Combination Hunt and Fish license) and asked the DNR to consider the feasibility to allow juniors to purchase additional licenses at the senior price. This would strike a middle ground between the current and proposed license price for juniors and encourage families to continue their outdoor traditions promoted by the Mentored Youth Hunting Program.

However, the DNR states that making the junior discount match the senior discounted items would lose $1.2 million of the proposed funding increase and adds complication to the system. In doing some background research, we have learned that nearly every other state surrounding Michigan has junior discounted licenses. While the results of Responsive Management’s (Mark Damian Duda) evaluation of hunter recruitment and retention programs indicates that cost does not rank as a leading factor in barriers to hunter recruitment (lack of time, mentors, and access rank much higher), it is mentioned.

What do you think?

Should we acknowledge that getting kids outdoors is at least as important as giving seniors their discount too? Does Michigan want to be a leader in making kids (or more accurately their parents) pay the full price of admission? Maybe everyone should pay even more than proposed because funding for natural resources is that critical.  If you are a parent, does this license fee increase impact your plans for hunting with your family?  Share your stories and thoughts below.



  • John Caretti

    As a parent, cost of the license was irrelevant to me but I can see where it might be a financial challenge for some. Junior licenses need to be cheap. IMO We don’t want any barriers to kids getting into the woods!

    Other than that, I am supportive of the license fee package- especially if it gets more COs and Biologists into the field.

  • Craig Scott

    How has the $1 surcharge improved non-hunters’ acceptance?

    • Amy Trotter

      In Colorado, they had a few ballot initatives and even lost trapping for a time due to ballot referendum. They now have research to say that, through the marketing they have done, 7/10 non-hunters would oppose initiatives that ban hunting and 30% of anti’s have become at least neutral to hunting. Here’s a link to a video explaining the program, we plan to do a blog soon as well further discussing this:

  • Rico G.

    As a senior resident living in Northern, IN, and a member of 3 No. Indiana cons. club’s, I am extremely dissappointed in the almost doubling of the cost of non-resident fishing licenses for non-residents. Does the DNR realize the impact this will have on Southern Michigan businesses and campgrounds when many Indiana seniors quit fishing in Michigan because of the cost (especially now that Indiana offers an all species fishing license for seniors for only $3.00). When talking to fellow senior cons. club members here in Indiana, about 3 out of 4 said they will probably quit fishing in Michigan, what with gas prices being so high and now this…they won’t be able to afford to! This means not only will the Michigan DNR lose this income from the drop in Non-Res. license sales, but Pure Michigan will have a tougher time selling the idea to senior non-residents who love to fish to come and spend their tourism money with Michigan businesses (and I’m sure other surrounding states’ seniors feel the same)! Shame on Michigan if it goes thru with this plan to stop non-resident seniors from fishing in their state!!! The Governor, the Mi. DNR, the Legislature and Pure Michigan need to take another look at this and make it more senior friendly!

    • j

      The out of staters I see out on the salmon streams with the pricey pro-grade equipment are the ones that really bring the tourism cash, driving hundreds of miles filling up their 50k pickups with +3.75/gal gas, staying a week’s time in cabins, eating out at local joints for every meal. No offense but potentially a retired, just over the border, sportsman with higher amounts of free time could easily harvest more game fish annually than most in-state fisherman, all the while getting away with only a relatively meager yearly license fee, occasional bucket of worms and stop at a local eatery. This is hardly the big tourism bucks compared to the other scenario described especially when you consider the increased resources that are harvested through out the year. While it’s true that the increased cost will potentially cut down on out-of-state sportsman, the state is just keeping up with the times since few other states offer non-resident fishing fees less than the new proposed rate. And if the above argument means diddly to you think of it this way: if a person truly enjoys the sport and fishes 10 times annually across the border, that increased cost equals just a few bucks more per trip.

      • Rico G

        Indiana annual non-resident fee…$35.00, less than half of the new Michigan rate. But why should you care? I’m sure you are not a retiree on a fixed income and you probably don’t plan on fishing in Indiana in the near future. And hey, you get a small reduction on the cost of your fishing license! I know the bait shops, campgrounds and restaurants in Michigan counties bordering Indiana don’t agree with you on this subject!

  • Brian S

    I have two boys 16 and under. Seems like a lot of money to spend just so they can sit in the woods with me for an afternoon or two. Can’t see why the seniors should get a discount and the youths don’t.

  • Dawayne Houghteling

    I spend hundreds of dollars per year to hunt, and love every dollar spent. However, it’s hard to justify spending the same money to take a child 1 weekend, or possibly 1 day due to school, sports, etc. many people in the state would take part in introducing children into the outdoors if we keep it economical.
    We give seniors a discount, don’t the future generations of the sport deserve the same rate as the seniors? This is very puzzling to most sportsmen and parents.
    Too many people are suffering financially to not create a cheaper gateway to the outdoors for youngsters.

  • K. M. Head

    Under the new system will it still be legal for a bowhunter, during archery deer hunting seasons, to take an antlerless deer under their combo deer hunting license as it is in the present license system?

    • Amy Trotter

      That will be up to the Natural Resources Commission to determine what can be taken with the proposed licenses. From everything we have heard, they are intending on honoring that existing system but will try to keep our readers aware if any changes are suggested.

  • Greg Hoiem

    Getting kids outdoors is MORE important than giving senior discounts. The youth are the future of hunting & fishing… without them the sports will die out, and there would, additionally, be no need for or funding for the various government agencies dealing with the outdoors.

  • Greg Hoiem

    Additionally, I would like to see the DNR charge non-residents the same rates for their licenses here as their home states charge non-residents. Might help bring down the prices of some of the exorbitant fees charged out west.

  • Jerry Burger

    Any thoughts of making the early youth hunts a doe only hunt?

    • Amy Trotter

      There have been discussions about it for a while, MUCC will be voting on it this summer but I have no idea which way it will go.

  • john

    Yes it will impact people on budget. Their kids will hunt without a license. Seniors need a break they cannot get out and hunt like they used to, if it costs to much they will just stay home.

  • Jeff G.

    There are a lot more people than the hunters and fishermen of this great state that enjoy our state lands and waters. Find a way to license them instead of raising the hunting and fishing fees each time funds become an issue.

  • Bob K

    $60 bucks for kids!? What if you have 3 kids you have to buy the licenses for. Get real! As a parent who has to pay the license fee (since 12 and 13 year olds don’t have high paying jobs yet!) Sounds like my kids aren’t hunting anymore. I can’t afford for them and me to hunt and since I’m more the sure shot, tough luck kids! That’s a zero percent increase from our house.

  • Paul Szymanski

    What kind of discriminatory fishing license is this, one who fishes all species’s now pays $30, his cost will drop down to $25. A $5 decrease, while someone who only fishes bluegills and perch now pays $15, will be paying $25, a $10 increase? can you give me some sane reasoning behind this?

  • Mary Baase

    I have a friend who is handicapped, he can not hunt small game, but he can ride his 4 wheeler to his deer blind. Why should he have to pay for a small game license that he can not use so that he can deer?

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