Ohio eyes boost of non-resident fees

Steve PollickA just-out proposal by Scott Zody, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, would provide for what he calls a “modest” increase in non-resident hunting fees, including the base hunting tag and the either-sex deer permit, and it also would create a non-resident antlerless-only tag.

The chief notes that Ohio is underpriced when it comes to charging non-residents, especially for deer hunting, and even with this increase, Ohio will remain a very competitively priced state for non-residents to come and hunt. He considers the increases a “fair share” contribution by non-residents. 

“Ohio has become a popular destination for non-resident hunters because of the state’s reputation for trophy-class white-tailed deer, but is undervalued when it comes to cost,” says a wildlife division position statement. Charts from 2010 provided by the division show Ohio ranked 13th in what it charges resident deer hunter, but only 35th in what it charges out-of-staters.

The foregoing is bolstered by the dramatic increase in the number of out-of-state plates — from as distant as Maine and Vermont to South Carolina and Florida — seen in the heart of Deer County in Ohio’s Southeast during both archery and slug-gun seasons.

So, Zody is proposing to boost the general non-resident hunting license to $149, up $25, and the either-sex deer permit to $99, up $76, for a total increase of $101. It would cost non-residents thus $248 to hunt deer here. An additional non-resident antlerless permit would double to $28, from the present $14.

So-doing should yield at least $3 million in much-needed funding, what with no increases in 10 years, according to the division, assuming at least 80 percent of non-resident hunters are not deterred by the fee boost.

“We are adamantly opposed to any free license additions/amendments,” the chief says, adding that the division loses not only state funding but also federal matching money when that happens. That is because the federal Pittman-Robertson Act formula on the hunting matc h is based on licenses sold, not just licenses issued.
The chief further notes: “One of the main reasons we need to do this is to ensure we capture the significant increases we are seeing in federal match due to the huge rise in gun and ammunition sales across the country. If we can’t match down the federal dollars, they revert back to Washington and are gone forever.” Remember, the division’s funding rests principally on hunter and angler shoulders; the state’s general tax funds, which we also pay as citizens, do not subsidize wildlife division programs.  The federal “matc h” comes from excise taxes we pay on hunting and fishing equipment and boat-fuel tax.

So, a prososed bill to effect the boosted non-resident fees is expected to be introduced in the General Assembly, “and the sooner we can get the sportsmen engaged to start making contacts, the better our chances,” Zody said.

Further details on this plan can be expected in the next print issue of Ohio Outdoor News, but Ohio sportsmen need to mull this plan over, and make their views known soon. The annual rules-making process is under way for deer and other game and fish rules. The annual district public meetings will come early next month, followed by Ohio Wildlife Council and/or General Assembly legislative action. Don’t wait till it is too late to have your say, at least by the district meetings.

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