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Thread: Hunting License/Tag fee increase information

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Hunting License/Tag fee increase information

    Here is the hunting license/tag fee increases proposed by ADFG a couple years ago:
    http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/special/...ntproposal.pdf

    I thought that rather than just respond to recent polls here, forum members might benefit from some real numbers. More info on license/tag fee increase justification here:
    http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/special/...ntoverview.php

    Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers supports the increases ADFG requested. We also support more transparency within ADFG to see where the money is going. I was in talks with other orgs earlier this year to attempt to get a new license/tag fee increase to the legislature in the upcoming session, but I am sorry to say it hasn't panned out. Majority thinking (among politicians and orgs) is that since 2008 is an election year, any vote for a "tax" increase isn't likely to go over well politically. And that it wouldn't fly next session.

    We also support a small fee for resident harvest tags to cover cost of that...something along the lines of $10 for a harvest ticket. We have major problems on all levels within Wildlife Conservation Division with lack of funding. We cannot rely on general fund monies, and those funds are also problematic for hunting/hunters. We are losing experienced biologists of late to retirement. We need to offer competitve salaries to new biologists and have more staff in certain areas. Many new biologists choose to work for the feds, because of higher salaries and other issues. In some areas, fed staff outnumbers ADFG/state staff in the same area twenty-fold. It's a huge problem for us. I hope to work with other orgs in future to come up with a reasonable bill to submit to the legislature for a license/tag fee increase that isn't tied at all to any mandates to hunter success rates.
    Sincerely,

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    The only problem I see with that is ;where does it stop? I think if they see that Alaskans are ok with this then maybe theyll go ahead and increase the next year or two from now. I feel this state has plenty of money in the govt. to fund ADFG,,,they just need to share a lil better.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Dan,

    You are right that the state has plenty of money to fully fund ADF&G, but the governor and legislature choose not to. Just look at the proposed ADF&G budget for FY09. For the division of commercial fisheries there are a few hundred thousand in increases for some hatchery work a crewman's study. Wildlife Conservation faired a little better. The sad fact is that much of ADF&Gs work is done without the help of general fund money.

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    Default Fees

    Great incite Mark. I think most of us appreciate all that you do bring issues to the fore front. I agree with the transparency comment, too many smoke filled rooms! I am not sure if I agree with the notion of increasing fees to out of state of to those of us who live here unless there is a need to support a program that needs support.

    Keep asking the hard questions guys and just maybe we will get a government that acts upon our behalf.
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  5. #5

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    So be it. Just let the state bio's use the federal data. How can it get any better than that. The feds call the shots anyway, so let them fund it. I would trust the state legislators to know way more about this than most on this forum. Money coming in through federal earmarks and indirect support the state can garner from federal employees is a good deal, given the fact that the federal govt has control of the process anyway.

  6. #6
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Inflation, budgetary concerns, and increases needed

    For the most part, wildlife conservation/management funds are derived directly from hunters via license and tag fees, taxes on ammo and firearms, and the donations and work of hunting conservation orgs.

    The past couple of years ADFG has received some general fund (GF) monies from the legislature to fund the predator control programs. Also the legislature directed $400,000 toward a predator mgmt education campaign.

    There are several reasons why wildlife conservation and mgmt are not generally funded by GF monies. I mentioned previously that we can't rely on this funding source. Another reason why our Wildlife Conservation Division is not generally funded with public monies is that hunters/hunting orgs are afraid that by using GF monies this opens the door to non-hunters lobbying and having a say in mgmt decisions.

    So this leaves us with the only real practical long-term solution for reliable funding of conservation and mgmt via hunter dollars. Alaska is well behind the curve on meeting the funding requirements for what we need to do inre wildlife mgmt and conservation. The last hunting license/tag fee increase was fourteen years ago. Since that time the price of avgas and heating oil and just about everything has skyrocketed upward. We must keep pace with inflation and rising costs by adjusting the license/tag fees upward. Inre what Danthedewman1 asked ("Where does it stop?")...well Dan, why should it stop?

    In discussions this past summer with other orgs on this, and with managers, someone came up with what I thought was a great idea: When/if we do raise hunting license/tag fees via a legislative bill, we insert in this bill a caveat that every so many years (3-5) our hunting licenses are automatically raised at whatever the rate of inflation has been. This increase would likely be minimal, but it solves the continual problem of having to use the legislature and a controversial "tax" bill every time we need to raise the license and/or tag fees.

    I am kinda surprised that so many hunters oppose this increase or are troubled that increases may continue to happen in future. (Dan, my wife and I are paying nearly double now for air-taxi charters than we were paying back in the early 90s, which was when the last hunting license increase was. ADFG is also paying a lot more to do the aerial surveys they need to do...so I don't really understand the position that hunters should not bear some of the brunt of this or that our license fees should not keep pace with these rising costs.)

    We rob Peter to pay Paul; we redirect monies from one area to another, from one game animal to another, can't do the density estimates we'd like to do, and we have area biologists fighting amongst other ABs to get funding for their units. Picture an ADFG Regional meeting in which managers explain how much funding is available to area bios. One bio wants to do a sheep survey in his/her unit, another bio wants to do a bear density estimate to see if bear control is warranted, and another bio may want to do a controlled burn to improve habitat. They hash it out and hash it out and finally decisions are made that prioritize what managers feel is most important...but all of that is important!

    What is also important is not to let our Wildlife Conservation Division be further usurped by federal dollars and staffing. In the last five years alone, I can count a number of long-time well-respected ADFG biologists who have retired. When you sit down and talk to these people about our situation, it is very depressing. They don't see ADFG having the ability to recruit the same level of staff (both in quality and quantity) as in the past. We must remain competitive with federal positions, offer competitive salaries and benefits. If we don't, we won't be able to recruit the good staff we need. Many advocate for having a sheep biologist position again, and it looks like that will happen, so where's the money gonna come from?

    It needs to come from us hunters. We need to pay our own way. We've always done it in the past and there is no reason I can see that we shouldn't continue to gladly do so.

    For those who say that our Division of Wildlife conservation is not prudently using the funding they have now, to keep the funding via license and tag fees the same as it was in 1993 and "make them budget their money better," well that may garner a lot of emotional support from hunters but it just doesn't wash. I'm sorry, but that line of thinking is grounded in ignorance and naivete. We need ADFG offices, staff needs heat and electricity in the buildings, chairs and computers etc., and we still need to charter aircraft to do aerial surveys, still need gps collars for animals, labs, research...all of it. How many of you have you actually visited biologists and managers in their offices? Last time I spoke with a bear biologist in his cramped office, there was no room for another chair in there! I sat on an upturned bucket. This was in Fbks, and all of the biologists' offices there are pretty darn small and I sure didn't see any new furniture. Could they do better? I'd wager they could, but not to the point that Wildlife Conservation can just magically rebudget monies and suddenly we have sheep surveys and new positions and staff and all that we really need to do. Seems like some hunters would like to see biologists sitting on the floor in the dark in an unheated building so as to better budget things. Pshaw.

    As I said, we hope to work with other orgs to get a license/tag fee increase bill before the legislature at the soonest opportunity. So far, this seems to be one issue most hunting orgs agree on. It doesn't look like it we will see a license/tag increase bill though until 2009. And that, fellow hunters, is a real bummer the way I see it, whether you are a resident or non-resident.

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    Fish & Game has more than enough $$$ as long as itís used for hunting and fishing. The problem is the people who demand more and more of Fish and Game and Alaska pay nothing. I want to see a license for wildlife viewing, skiing, dog mushing, biking and double the non-res fishing license.

  8. #8

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    Yeah and whats really sad is you look at the most recent wild sheep study done by the State from a 3-4 years ago and it clearly repeats many times throughout the publication that do to a lack of funds and manpower this or that was not done conclusively. And then at the end of the publication it states that the study was funded by federal aid...***????? What eactly do they have money for and or where is their money going?

  9. #9

    Default Our government

    I have zero faith in our state and federal government. They waste our hard earned money and aren't really accountable for anything. We are constantly more than paying our way. How is it that Fish and Game doesn't have adequate funding? Our government simply can't run a business efficiently. Hunting is a costly endevor for the young enthuastic hunter. We are also consisently micromanaged, give the government an open door to increase license fees and harvest fees and it will never end.

    Maybe if they had our best interests at heart then I would be more open minded and warm to the idea but they don't. They are barely mediocre people and you're very unlikely to get top notch people in state agencies.
    They have sold us out a long time ago.
    Marc Theiler

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    Default Bushrat Nice Web Site

    Sorry to say it has taken me way to long to be able to search the world wide web busy busy if you know what I mean.

    I do not mean to high-Jack the thread but nice web site and great balance concerning the Pebble Mine on the site.

    Keep up the great work. I will ad your web to my list of links if you don't mind.

    Blue Moose

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    Default Question for Bushrat-

    Bushrat,

    You know I prefer to stay out of the politics; for me it's a black hole I would be easily sucked in to and there seems to be no end to it.

    What concerns me about an increase is this: We are paying more and more every year for state and federal services, but our wages are not keeping up with the increases. How far does it go before we say "enough!" I know a well-respected company that is hiring people for the same starting wage they hired them at over 20 years ago!

    It seems to me that there should be a natural increase in available revenue to ADFG, the State of Alaska, and even our local communities (Anchorage included) just by natural growth. As the population increases, revenue goes up. I believe we have more folks fishing and hunting in Alaska than we did 20 years ago; is there not an increase in revenue from that?

    I realize that this is very simplistic, and that I do not have a firm grasp of the issues. And I sorta agree that we probably need an increase... but it just doesn't set well when the state gets a raise and I don't. Eventually I have no more to give them.

    Is there a simple, uncomplicated response to that, or is it as tangled as I think?

    Thanks, I appreciate your insights on this.

    -Mike
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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default reply for Mike

    Mike, kids and I are heading downriver for a couple nights, so not much time this morn. Let me see if I can dig up the Q&A ADFG had on the license/tag increase. Here it is:
    http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/special/...untq_and_a.pdf

    Perhaps the notion to automatically have minimal increases to our hunting licenses with inflation is too much. Okay...I understand the fears on that. It becomes a problem, however, when/if we do need to raise fees (like now) because it has to be done via the legislature and so you get heavy politics as usual (like last time with SB 170) and a simple license/tag fee increase turns into a forty page bill with all kinds of things most can't agree on. So the bill dies and ADFG is stuck in the same hole. For all I know, we may never see a license/tag increase due to political pressures and the attitudes of hunters who oppose it vehemently.

    This issue (need for hunting license/tag fee increase) has happened in many other states and the debate has been about the same. Invariably there are comparisons to what other states charge for resident and non-res licenses and tags. Among the western states Alaska is the lowest and has not kept pace with the other states as far as what we charge both res and non-res.

    Personally, I don't care whether or not I get a "raise" along with any hunting license fee increase. I don't think that line of thought is really prudent either if you care about the future of hunting in Alaska. I am not going to demand that marten prices go up before I am willing to help fund what needs to be done inre wildlife conservation and management.
    I know that ADFG's Wildlife Conservation Division is in dire straits and has already made many cutbacks, and I am looking at the big long-term picture here as part and parcel of advocacy for future hunting opportunities for my kids and your kids and our grandkids.

    Inre your line of thought that there are now more hunters and licenses sold, so therefore there should be more money to perhaps equal the inflationary costs, that doesn't pan out. Some of that may be in the Q&A link, don't recall, but when I return I can dig up the stats on that.

    Just seems to me like pleny of Alaskan hunters are riding the gravy train and don't realize how good they have it. They are spoiled and used to hardly paying anything for a hunting license and tag. You talk to some residents of other "western" states and then it seems like Alaskans are just getting away with not paying their fair share toward wildlife management.

    One point of clarification for you, Mike, and also for Rutting Moose. Fishing license fees do not go to Division of Wildlife Conservation. We had a fishing license increase in 2006, Tom, both on the resident and non-resident side. Doesn't have a thing to do with funding of DWC. So you can't look at any increases in fishing license sales and more anglers as helping the hunting side.

    No simple response Mike. Sorry. When you mix wildlife management with economics and politics, nothing is ever that simple <grin>.

  13. #13

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    Every individual I know, wants a SMALLER State Government. Not a bigger one. More taxes, user fees, surcharges, license increases, etc., are for one thing and one thing only, LARGER State Government. As mentioned earlier, I think the State of AK could make better use of their personnel, by allowing the Feds to continue to fund and feed the system and then use their data for what few decisions are actually left to the state. Why does anyone want to pay for a system that has such little impact to the realm of Hunting? Why does anyone want to pay for two systems doing the same thing? The Federal system we are stuck with and in fact have no say so about; The State system is completely within our control. And NO, the Feds ain't never going away, just because they see we are willing to step up and fund Fish and Game, that notion is rediculous. One system is plenty, and I prefer to accept the one we cannot influence, rather than pay for additional increases.

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    AKRES- Are you actualy advocating bending to the federal wim of people in washington rather than pushing to achieve some level of states rights? I personally want a STRONG state Govt, voted in by alaskans that we can actualy influence. One that doesn't pander to the Federal Dollar. How about the feds put their money into the trillions of dollars in growing national debt or fund the terrorist hunting operations in the middle east. Set up a 5 year plan to turn ALL national land over to the state and fund the whole operation from within using licensing/tag fees predominantly from non-res but to a lesser extent the residents. We could open up some of the long since closed sheep areas, do away with the rediculous fed subsistance system perhaps build a frickin road or two!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    Every individual I know, wants a SMALLER State Government. Not a bigger one. More taxes, user fees, surcharges, license increases, etc., are for one thing and one thing only, LARGER State Government. As mentioned earlier, I think the State of AK could make better use of their personnel, by allowing the Feds to continue to fund and feed the system and then use their data for what few decisions are actually left to the state. Why does anyone want to pay for a system that has such little impact to the realm of Hunting? Why does anyone want to pay for two systems doing the same thing? The Federal system we are stuck with and in fact have no say so about; The State system is completely within our control. And NO, the Feds ain't never going away, just because they see we are willing to step up and fund Fish and Game, that notion is rediculous. One system is plenty, and I prefer to accept the one we cannot influence, rather than pay for additional increases.

    That's funny every individual I know wants a smaller federal goverment. It seems that the feds continualy expand theit budget and control into what should be states rights. I especially think managing game should be a states right. For the state to do it properly it needs to be properly funded. I agree with raising licenses and fees for both residents and non residents. As a resident I would not mind paying 10 or 15 dollars for my harvest tags. Who knows it might be enough to actualy cover the cost of reviewing the harvest tags and putting the info to good use.
    Last edited by garnede; 12-26-2007 at 16:47. Reason: spelling
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  16. #16

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    [QUOTE=LuJon I personally want a STRONG state Govt, voted in by alaskans that we can actualy influence. [/QUOTE]

    I do too, I think we all do. Fact is though that the few elected reps we have, cannot influence Hunting in Alaska. And the BOG and Bios are not elected, as you know. They are just more individuals with their hands out.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by garnede View Post
    I especially think managing game should be a states right.
    I do too, but the fact is, this is not going to happen, so we need to work with the system we got, as opposed to the system we wish we had.

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    Default lots of transparency

    i'd be in for $10 a tag. but i'd blow a gasket if they fed the sandhill cranes in plowed fields for public oohs and awws--oh yeah they already do that with hunters dollars. also no more guppy surveys in middle of nowhere creek. if we need to know more about the sheep, and hunters drop another ten bucks to hunt sheep, there should be a crystal like transparent increase in sheep surveying. would the political complicated system allow for that? my ten bucks is happily standing by.

  19. #19
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Bump

    Bumping this to the top again and wanted to respond to what Holly said.

    Holly, I do think that we should push for monies to be spent on the game animals we buy any future "tags" for, and that this could happen, along with that "transparency." But it can only happen if ADFG wildlife conservation has enough funding that they don't have to "rob" from one species mgmt to fund another. Overall, I'd say that moose and caribou are the most "important" game animals to most hunters, so ADFG and the Board of Game are going to focus on those two species. They are focusing now on those two species to the extent they don't have enough funding for sheep surveys and other research and habitat work. The monies the legislature gave out of general fund monies to ADFG last year all went toward predator control programs and the predator mgmt education campaign.

    Also, we have what is called "SWG" monies, State Wildlife Grant funds that are dedicated primarily to "non-game" animals. The analogy of the "guppy" survey doesn't hold water (no pun intended) when it comes to taking funds from the game-animal side. There is talk now about using some of the SWG funds for game animals, and most recently we are using some of those funds for Wood Bison restoration efforts and research, and in future if we follow through with that program (our org supported it) we could see hunting of wood bison down the line. The SWG monies are a pretty large funding stream and some are trying to figure out how to use some of it on the game animal side, but the stipulations on that would seem to prevent it. Just wanted to point out that there are different funding mechanisms to cover non-game animals that aren't derived from our hunting license and tag fees and the Pittman-Robertson matching funds from the tax on guns and ammo.

    You are correct that hunter dollars do go toward other programs, like the sandhill crane example. That leads us to discussion on wildlife viewing fees supporting Wildlife Conservation Division, and there have been many attempts in the last few years to impose a wildlife viewing fee that have not come close to passing. That would be a whole other discussion to have.

    Best,

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    What about charging wildlife photographers royalty fees on the photos they sell of Alaskan Wildlife? How many non-hunter wildlife photographers are making a living off of exploiting Alaskan wildlife that us hunters pay to have managed??
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