Legislation that would have eliminated hunting, fishing, and trapping permit fees for Missouri residents has been changed.
The Department of Conservation said the original bill filed by Senator Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) would have cut its budget by nearly $45 million by eliminating fees for hunting, fishing and trapping permits for Missouri residents. Munzlinger revised the bill after doing some research and speaking with the department and fellow lawmakers.
“I visited with (the Department) and found out that there actually has to be a sale of the permits,” said Munzlinger.
The federal Pittman-Robertson Act created an excise tax that provides funds to each state to manage wildlife and their habitats. The Dingell-Johnson Act provides financial assistance for state fish restoration and management projects. Department of Conservation Deputy Director Tim Ripperger says the actual selling of the permit brings federal aid dollars back to Missouri.
“That’s over $20-million to this state that other states would be receiving if we weren’t selling those permits,” said Ripperger.
Munzlinger’s bill no longer eliminates permit fees for Missouri residents, but it does provide a discount for non-resident landowners. Those with at least 80 acres of Missouri property would only have to pay 50 percent of the non-resident fee for hunting, fishing, and trapping permits. Non-resident permit fees for deer hunting are currently $225 and $130 for turkey hunting.
“I thought this was a lot better bill at this time to move forward,” said Munzlinger. “It actually helps provide an incentive for those non-resident landowners to come and enjoy their land here in Missouri.”
Ripperger says the department would develop a fiscal note for the committee to see what kind of financial impact the revised bill would have.
“It’s something that we haven’t had time to do the analysis on as a department,” said Ripperger. “Our conservation commission a couple of weeks ago asked us to take a look at non-resident permit fees for non-resident landowners around the state, and we’re doing that now through a series of public deer meetings and our staff is looking into it.”
No one testified in support of the bill, but there were many wildlife organizations who were opposed to the new legislation. Most of those who spoke in opposition said they were against any attempt to control permit fees other than those set by the state Conservation Commission.