Michael Pearce

Hunting and fishing permit license fees may increase

Hunters and anglers will probably pay more for the privilege in Kansas beginning Jan. 1.

Robin Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, stated his desire to raise the cost of hunting and fishing licenses at Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Hays.

“It’s been 13 years since we’ve had a fee adjustment on our hunting and fishing licenses,” Jennison said during a break in the meeting. “It’s not like we have more hunters and anglers so that means we’re trying to support programs (with increased costs) with no increase in our resources.”

Currently, residents buying a hunting or fishing license pay $20.50 for an individual license or $38.50 for a combination hunting/fishing license.

Jennison expressed concern that the department someday may not have enough funds to support the popular 1 million-plus acre Walk In Hunting Area program. Most of the rates paid for the program, which leases private lands for public hunting, haven’t seen major increases through the years. Meanwhile, competition with private individuals wanting to lease those same lands has increased.

While the Walk-In program does receive significant federal matching funds, Jennison noted the department first has to put up the entire amount. Matching funds come later, he said.

Jennison gave no indication where new fees for hunting or fishing licenses might be set, but said the department would hopefully have suggested prices for commissioners at an August commission meeting near Great Bend.

The topic is scheduled to see a commission vote in October, so the new fees can be in place Jan. 1.

The secretary listed several other licensing changes the department is considering, some of which would make things like being a combination hunting and fishing license more appealing. One way would be to give a discounted price.

Multi-year licenses are also being considered, which would be sold at a discount to sportsmen. It’s hoped having the licenses could encourage sportsmen to hunt or fish every year. Currently, a sizable percentage of sportsmen don’t purchase hunting or fishing licenses annually.

Several commissioners offered favorable comments on the concept of raising hunting and fishing rates to better keep up with rising costs.

Several years ago the department ended the hunting and fishing license exemption for Kansans ages 65 to 75 in an effort to raise more funds, and to qualify for more federal funding raised through excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. Such seniors now must purchase licenses, but at rates greatly reduced from standard rates.