Anglers, hunters could pay more for licenses under plan to be vetted around state

By David Pendered

Georgia is considering a hike in the cost of fishing licenses for the thousands of anglers who flock to wet a line on Memorial Day and other days during the year.

The cost of a hunting license could increase, as well.

Fishing licenses

Justin Blythwood is featured on the cover of Georgia’s book on fishing regulations with a “rooster” redbreast, a sunfish that weighs more than a pound, that he caught in the Satella River. Credit: georgiawildlife.com

It’s all part of a move that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says is intended to enable the state to meet the demand for quality outdoor experiences:

  • “DNR continues to see an increase in requests for more hunting and fishing opportunities while continuing to provide quality recreational experiences,” reads a recent statement. “However, stagnant license revenues have limited the short and long-term ability to respond to customer demands.”

Fees are a reliable way to raise money from those who have a vested interest in a program. The hikes may not be popular, but they are limited to a target audience.

Zell Miller was governor the last time fees for hunting and fishing licenses were increased. That was during the economic setback of the early 1990s, and Miller’s budget folks recommended hikes in fees for licenses to drive, fish and hunt. The hikes were not popular, to say the least.

The fee hikes are just one option the state is considering. According to DNR, the options include:

  • “Further expansion of efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate of hunters, anglers and shooters; simplification of the license structure system to maximize funding from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs; and adjustment of current license costs.  Resident license fees have not changed in 23 years and are well below the national average.”

That last sentence may be the money statement, so to speak.

Fishing license fees

Fishing license fees

The fees for Georgia residents currently are priced at less than the price of a lunch at a trendy Midtown restaurant.

A fishing license costs $9 a year. A trout license costs $5. A combination license, for fishing and hunting, costs $17 a year

A lifetime license is available for those who are both confident of their longevity and interest in the sport. For $500, the state sells a lifetime license for hunting and fishing to those aged 16 years to 59 years. Those approaching Medicare get a drop to $95 for ages 60 years to 64 years. After age 64, the state says grace over a license that is free of charge.

Georgia uses the revenue from licenses for purposes that include managing public hunting and fishing locations, conducting research, planting food plots to feed and attract game, and stocking fish.

The state has scheduled seven public open forums to gather comments about the situation. The meetngs are to be open each day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and again from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The two venues closest to metro Atlanta are:

  • June 15 – Gainesville Civic Center, Chattahoochee Room, 830 Green Street NE, Gainesville, Ga. 30501;
  • June 23 – Red Top Mountain State Park, Group Shelter #1, 50 Lodge Road SE, Cartersville, Ga. 30121

To submit comments and take a survey, the state has established a website at: www.georgiawildlife.com/aimforsuccess to provide electronic comments and take the survey.

Written comments may be sent to: License Restructure, Wildlife Resources Division, 2070 US Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle GA 30025. The initial comment period is to close July 6.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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