DNR hunting, fishing license hikes? ‘Raising fees on Ohioans should be the last option, not the first’

Columbus — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has pulled the plug on any increases to hunting and fishing license fees for residents.

But the natural resources department is now pulling back from its original stance in regard to whether to increase non-resident fishing and hunting license fees.

DNR spokesman Matt Eislstein noted April 25 that his previous statement of no fee increases was a reference to “Ohio’s sportsmen and women …”

“’Non-resident fees are being considered separately, and this does not have to be a both or neither scenario,’ Eislstein said in an electronic posting.

“At this time, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife does not support a license fee increase on Ohio’s hunters and anglers,” the DNR said in a short email a day earlier to Ohio Outdoor News. “While we appreciate the support of our sportsmen, we are seeking efficiencies and savings within the department that will result in a higher level of service, without raising license fees.”

This follows on the heels of an April 14 Ohio Outdoor News story headlined “Ohio groups push on for license hike.”

In that article, it was pointed out how the Columbus-based Sportsmen’s Alliance had teamed with approximately two dozen other Ohio-related or -based sportsmen and conservation groups in backing license fee increases for hunters and anglers.

This fee jump was especially aimed at non-resident deer hunters. The ad hoc assembly pointed out that Ohio charges the least expensive non-resident deer-hunting fee package of “…any quality white-tailed deer hunting state in the country…” citing a figure of $149 while the average for such states is $393.

“You don’t have to be an economist to understand that increased costs mean decreased participation,” James Zehringer, DNR director, said in a letter regarding the potential increase of hunting and fishing license fees. “History reflects this reality. The last three fee increases for resident fishing licenses, for example, have led to decreases in sales ranging from 12 percent to 4.8 percent. Hunting licenses show a similar drop in sales each time fees are raised. Fewer licenses sold can also reduce federal funds that flow back to Ohio.

“Raising fees on Ohioans should be the last option, not the first.”

For an in-depth story, see the May 12 issue of Ohio Outdoor News. To subscribe, go to http://www.outdoornews.com/sub_form/.

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