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MI Gov proposes new license fees


L. Gallagher

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The approach is usually revenue maximization, and with nonresidents I think that's how it should be.  Frankly, I can't think of another defensible policy with nonresidents.  Why should the taxpayers of State X forego revenue they could obtain from hunters visiting from States Y and Z?

...I'd say $300+ for nonresident, $40 for residents, and free for residents under 21 sounds entirely reasonable.  I doubt those prices would impact participation a bit, and hopefully it would increase DNR revenue for habitat work to improve the hunting.

If you think about it, the traveling bird hunter is actually a tourist. He pays for the license, for gas and food and lodging - he contributes quite a bit to the local economy. Where else are businesses in these little towns going to get additional local revenue. To me it makes no sense to drive people away... this is why So. Dakota makes such a big deal out of pheasant season - it's a cash cow for local businesses.

License - $XX.XX

Food - $35 a day X 7 days = $245

Gas - $20 a day X 7 days = $140

Lodging - $75 a day X 7 days = $ 525

Misc. supplies (ammo, etc.) for 7 days maybe = $50

Total for a week of hunting might be $ 960 PLUS the license. Well north of $1000 to whack a few grouse. Add you suggested $300 license fee and you're pushing $1500 for a week of grouse hunting. At some point, people just don't come to hunt. They go elsewhere or stay home and watch football.

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If they price the guys like me that will sleep in a tent and pack Grain Belt returnables out of the state, I don't know if that's a big loss to the state.  It might even be a net gain.

Wowza.  A net gain.  I guess the average IQ and level of class takes a tumble when I cross the state line.  Guess I'll just stay down here with the rest of the low brows and shoot road signs.

Fine.  Make it three hundred.  Then a couple of years down the road make it five.  Keep going.

But before you really go down that road look at Europe and what happened to hunting and fishing when they started pricing people out of the sports.

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Total for a week of hunting might be $ 960 PLUS the license. Well north of $1000 to whack a few grouse. Add you suggested $300 license fee and you're pushing $1500 for a week of grouse hunting. At some point, people just don't come to hunt. They go elsewhere or stay home and watch football.

It's absolutely true that there's a breaking point somewhere.  My only point is that for someone who can afford $960 in expenses for a week of hunting a $50 or $150 license fee increase is unlikely to change their behavior, and there's nothing wrong in my mind with states trying to maximize their return on conservation investments.

As the linked article above about western big game licenses shows, there's certainly a point where behavior will change, but it's pretty high.  I pulled the $300 number out as a seat of the pants estimate of where I thought people might start to balk.  I do hope that whoever is setting these license rates is basing them on more than the guess I offered.

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Frankly, if the above situation accurately described my own state, I'd be furious if my own DNR didnt do exactly that.  Keeping prices too low guarantees there will be no investment in the product quality, and it becomes a commodity. How is that good for anyone, resident or non-resident?

What you are describing is a system that invests in developing product added value. True for most private businesses.

But bear in mind... this is a GOVERNMENT TAX. I seriously doubt that a higher license fee would result in more grouse population or additional access to hunting. They are demanding more for the same product.

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A high license fee might price some people out of the market, but it might also lead to a greater concentration of the sort of customers that will spend money and contribute to the local economy by eating in restaurants and staying at Fritz's Marriott.  If they price the guys like me that will sleep in a tent and pack Grain Belt returnables out of the state, I don't know if that's a big loss to the state.  It might even be a net gain.

For one, you story is more of the exception than the rule for the majority of non-res hunters.

Second, I can relay my story of hunting in ND last year. We drove out to XXX, the only place we could find a room. Then awoke way before dawn to air dogs and grab a bit to eat. Then we drove south to the SD border.

Knocked on a few doors looking for a private piece to hunt. After a couple doors knocked, one opened. We chatted and secured permission.....solely on the fact that we were from outstate. Prompted a follow-up conversation.

The local landowner was tired of residents that live in the "big cities" of ND, drove down for the day...never bought gas, a meal, or left any of their money in the local area.

Oh, he said that if they could run to the hardware store and bring back a receipt for something...or prove that they had stayed in a local motel...he'd gladly let them on. It was an eye opener.

So by his account maybe the res hunters should pay more?

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Steelheadfred

I agree 100% Dan.

My licenses are too cheap. I annually buy the following. All Species Fishing $28.00 and Small Game $15.00 I also buy the waterfowl stamp $5 and the Fed WF Stamp. I rarely hunt waterfowl but I feel I'm supporting a good cause.

In 2014 I'll pay $10 bucks to hunt small game, that's fine, but let's get a habitat stamp then for $15.00. I'll pay $25.00 for all species fishing, it should be 35 min.

I just sent a letter to our Gov.

It essentially said the following.

Proposed license changes are a positive for our state, they needed to be addressed.

Resident License Increases or Decreases were too small and too big in some situations.

Out of State License Increase was not in line with the competition in other great lakes states and for small game was too high.

A missing piece was a land user license to tap more than anglers, boaters, hunters and ATV folks. That we needed a system that sells a license to X Country Skiers, Berry Pickers, shroom pickers, and hikers.

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If they price the guys like me that will sleep in a tent and pack Grain Belt returnables out of the state, I don't know if that's a big loss to the state.  It might even be a net gain.

Wowza.  A net gain.  I guess the average IQ and level of class takes a tumble when I cross the state line.  Guess I'll just stay down here with the rest of the low brows and shoot road signs.

Fine.  Make it three hundred.  Then a couple of years down the road make it five.  Keep going.

But before you really go down that road look at Europe and what happened to hunting and fishing when they started pricing people out of the sports.

Cooter,

If you make it up this way, come during the RGS hunt.  Get in touch and we can load up my jalopy with hounds and rally around the forest roads.  I only have one bottle holder though, so you may need to hold onto your beer so pack a coozie to keep it from getting warm.  I'll bring my sixty year old pump.  It'll be a kick, and I'm sure we'll really class the place up.

As for the European situation, I don't think the decline of hunting there has nearly as much to do with the price of licenses as it does with the lack of public hunting access.  In Scandinavia where there is a strong tradition of public right of way that includes hunting rights, they've got a greater percentage of their population out hunting than just about anywhere else in the developed world, including the US.  That's in spite of highly restrictive gun laws and a market socialist economic system.  As long as there's locally accessible public land with wild game, I think the hunting tradition will remain strong.

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WI Brookie Guy

Okay, let me paint this scenario:

A middle-class family stayed at a mom & pop resort on a slightly better than average fishing lake for a week every summer for years.  One day a larger interest purchased the resort and did some modest improvements -- dredged out the swimming area, put in a new dock, and a couple other small amenities.  The cabins, while clean but small and somewhat rustic, were largely unchanged.  The fishing, while pretty decent, but hardly outstanding, also remained unchanged.  Then the new owners proceeded to double the rate to get a quicker return on their investment.

Anyone want to guess what that family who loyally stayed at that resort for years did?  Bueller?

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So by his account maybe the res hunters should pay more?

Perhaps he's right, Dan.  My assessment was based on the assumption that residents are already ponying up for the taxes that underwrite the whole state system.

***

Fritz,

Our DNR XC ski pass is $20/year here.

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What you are describing is a system that invests in developing product added value. True for most private businesses.

But bear in mind... this is a GOVERNMENT TAX. I seriously doubt that a higher license fee would result in more grouse population or additional access to hunting. They are demanding more for the same product.

Right there is the problem.  Those extra dollars will be pi$$ed away on some useless government program.  If Michigan had dedicated funding to use those fees for habitat, I'd have no problem with the higher fees, but we all know thats not where the money is going.

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Steelheadfred
So by his account maybe the res hunters should pay more?

Perhaps he's right, Dan.  My assessment was based on the assumption that residents are already ponying up for the taxes that underwrite the whole state system.

***

Fritz,

Our DNR XC ski pass is $20/year here.

Before Kids I spent a lot of time each winter on X Country Ski's - on state land where the lot was plowed, trees mark, signage maintained.

I did it all for free - you know who paid for those services, the hunters, anglers, boaters, and ATV folks.

In Michigan you can go pick morel mushrooms and sell them for a mint, off public land. A fishing guide has to be licensed and pay a per rod tax when he accesses our public waters with paying clients, despite the fact that his clients all purchased fishing licenses. The "other" users could significantly "help" the system.

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Frankly, if the above situation accurately described my own state, I'd be furious if my own DNR didnt do exactly that.  Keeping prices too low guarantees there will be no investment in the product quality, and it becomes a commodity. How is that good for anyone, resident or non-resident?

What you are describing is a system that invests in developing product added value. True for most private businesses.

But bear in mind... this is a GOVERNMENT TAX. I seriously doubt that a higher license fee would result in more grouse population or additional access to hunting. They are demanding more for the same product.

I don't think that's true at all, at least it's not here.  A significant chunk of our license fees go to providing a quality experience.  Most significantly in MN is walleye and trout stocking.  Without license money funding those programs the fishing in lots of places wouldn't be that great.

In terms of bird hunting, there are hundreds of miles of state forest roads that need to be maintained in order to access our grouse covers.  If those weren't maintained our grouse hunting possibilities would be significantly reduced.

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 Most significantly in MN is walleye and trout stocking.  Without license money funding those programs the fishing in lots of places wouldn't be that great.

And maybe it shouldn't.

I hear the state is looking halving the walleye possession limit on Mille Lacs. According to some the current slot system is to blame.

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WI Brookie Guy

Frankly, if the above situation accurately described my own state, I'd be furious if my own DNR didnt do exactly that.  Keeping prices too low guarantees there will be no investment in the product quality, and it becomes a commodity. How is that good for anyone, resident or non-resident?

What you are describing is a system that invests in developing product added value. True for most private businesses.

But bear in mind... this is a GOVERNMENT TAX. I seriously doubt that a higher license fee would result in more grouse population or additional access to hunting. They are demanding more for the same product.

I don't think that's true at all, at least it's not here.  A significant chunk of our license fees go to providing a quality experience.  Most significantly in MN is walleye and trout stocking.  Without license money funding those programs the fishing in lots of places wouldn't be that great.

In terms of bird hunting, there are hundreds of miles of state forest roads that need to be maintained in order to access our grouse covers.  If those weren't maintained our grouse hunting possibilities would be significantly reduced.

That's a red herring.  I can't think of one state forest road wasn't put in for logging -- not hunting.  Yes, those roads are maintained and hunters use them to their benefit...but those are generally minimal maintenance roads which are used again for logging when that section of forest is back in rotation.

And who uses those roads more than locals?

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