Iowa lawmakers are being asked to consider approving a fee increase for hunting, trapping and fishing licenses. Kevin Baskins, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources , pitched the proposal to a House committee Thursday. He admits it’ll be a tough sell.
"I wouldn’t criticize anybody that doesn’t believe that the fees should be raised and wants us to stay with status quo, I respect that position," Baskins said. "But, we want them to at least understand if we don’t get (the fee increase), it will not be business as usual in the future. There will be some cuts and some things people will notice as a result of that."
Under the proposal, resident hunting and fishing licenses would rise from $17.50 to $23.50. Without the boost in funding, Baskins says the D.N.R. would be forced delay various park improvements and leave current openings for conservation officers vacant.
"We have several areas of the state where we only have one officer for two counties," Baskins said. "So, our response time on complaints or emergencies related to hunting or fishing could be delayed in some of those areas simply because we’re going to be short some people."
The fee increases would raise an additional 7 to 8 million dollars a year for the state’s Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund. The license fees have not been raised since 2000. Baskins describes the $6 fee hike as reasonable. "That’s less than a movie…or a ticket to the Iowa State Fair," Baskins noted. But, many hunters and anglers have raised concerns about having to foot most of the bill.
Aside from tax-time donations, the license fees represent the only funding for the D.N.R.’s fish and wildlife conservation programs. "More and more, it’s becoming a question of equity," Baskins said. The D.N.R. will hold a series of public meetings around the state beginning next month to discuss the fee increase proposal.