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Idaho Fish and Game pitches plan that raises fees

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is working on a fee increase proposal and an elk management plan.

“We always worry about paying more. Any time you have to pay more, it makes it tougher to enjoy the sport,” said Tom Thiel, owner of Archery Idaho.

Hunters and fisherman may have to do just that starting in 2015.

Fish and game is proposing about an increase across the board for licenses, tags and fees.

Mike Keckler, chief of communications for IDFG, said they have been short about $3 million per year. Fewer hunters are coming to Idaho.

“There are three reasons why they were not coming back: it’s the nonresident tag and license fee increase, the wolf impact on the elk population, and the fact that the economy was in recession,” said Keckler.

Nonresident prices went up in 2008, but resident prices haven’t changed since 2005.

When IDFG takes the proposal to the Legislature, they will also ask for the authority to create a price lock. That means if a sportsman buys his tag in 2014 and every year after, the fees will not go up.

“We will create an incentive for more people to buy more consistently, that way the need for a future increase may not be needed for some time,” said Keckler.

“I would be worried about the new people who want to get in to the sport. If it’s a little bit cost-prohibitive, they would be the ones most impacted by a dramatic cost increase,” said Thiel.

“A combination license in Idaho costs $33.50 right now. This increase would raise it up to $37 dollars,” said Keckler.

Tag fees would also go up, but what if a tag was good in more than one zone? That is one thing IDFG took comment on in the elk management plan.

“Being able to hunt like we used to in multiple zones, not statewide like we used to, but being able to choose different environments would be a plus,” said Thiel.

Some zones have bigger problems with predators than others, especially with wolves. About 150 of 442 responders to the elk plan specifically commented on increasing wolf management. Another 19 responders were against it. The plan, however, would not directly add new wolf strategies.

“Where one hasn’t been developed, we state our goal and a timeline, a measurable timeline in when that plan will be developed by and implemented. The prederation plans would be a stand-alone document”

IDFG will consider the public comments in its final proposal in January.

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