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Thoughts on the PGC Proposed License Increase

Published September 12. 2015 09:00AM

The last time I went to the movies, the admission cost was $8; add in the buttered popcorn and soda, plus the candy smuggled in my purse, and I'd spent about $15 on entertainment.

When I buy my Pennsylvania license, I buy just about everything you can get - general hunting, archery, fur taker, migratory bird (plus federal duck stamp), bear, bobcat, turkey, doe application and a chance at an elk tag. Let's say I've spent about $150 for the privilege to hunt in Pennsylvania.

How often do I go hunting? Every minute I can. Last fall I was heading into the Tamaqua Middle School for a school board meeting, and a citizen stopped me on the sidewalk to let me know that a long strip of corn stalk leaf was stuck to my shoe. That's because I had hunted until dark nearby, and changed clothes in the corn field.

In a conservative guess, counting the avid pursuit of ground hogs and coyotes, I probably hunted at least 150 days during the previous license year June to June, at a cost of about $1 a day.

Yes, I know that's not typical; so let's say your schedule allows you to get out on Saturdays only. You had six Saturdays during archery season, two in the deer firearms season, and four during spring turkey for a total of 12 days afield. Let's say you forego the migratory bird, bear and elk tag chance. You will have spent about $10 for each day - less than you'd spend going to see a two-hour movie.

I think that even with the proposed increases - for residents and nonresidents - the Pennsylvania hunting license is still a bargain.

Facts on the Proposed Increase - According to the PGC:

The Pennsylvania Game Commission last week unveiled a proposal to increase fees for hunting and fur taker licenses for the first time in 16 years. Any license-fee increase must be authorized by legislative action - with approval from the state General Assembly.

If the Game Commission's proposal is adopted as drafted, and fees for hunting and fur taker licenses are increased to $39 over a five-year period, Pennsylvania still would have the eighth-cheapest license in the nation, based on the existing fees in other states.

Almost 40 percent of the Game Commission's revenue comes from the sale of hunting and fur taker licenses. Other primary sources of income include federal Pittman-Robertson funds collected from an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, and revenue derived from the sale of natural resources like timber, oil and gas on lands owned by the Game Commission. With these revenues, largely generated by hunters and trappers, the Game Commission manages 480 species of wild birds and mammals, most of which aren't hunted.

The last increase took effect in 1999, raising the cost of resident adult hunting and fur taker licenses from $11.75 to $19.

The Game Commission's proposal to increase fees for hunting and fur taker licenses would not affect junior hunting licenses, junior combination licenses or senior hunting licenses. Those licenses would remain at $5, $8 and $12, respectively, plus $1.70 in fees that are split between the issuing agent and license processor.

Most other resident and nonresident license fees would increase three times in five years under the proposal. The cost of a resident adult hunting or furtaker license would increase by $10 in the first year fees are changed, then would increase by $5 in the third year, and another $5 in the fifth year of the plan. Fees for bear, antlerless deer, archery, muzzleloader, migratory game bird and special wild turkey (second spring gobbler) licenses also would see increases as part of the proposal, but the Game Commission also seeks to create a new license that could be used to participate in just about all hunting and trapping opportunities in Pennsylvania, and at a significant discount for those who purchase it.

The Ultimate Outdoorsman license would include a general hunting license, furtaker license, special wild turkey license, and licenses for bear, archery, muzzleloader and migratory game bird. If approved, the resident Ultimate Outdoorsman license would be available initially for $125. That's only $25 more than residents pay now for those licenses combined. And if license fees increase as proposed, the Ultimate Outdoorsman license would save hunters $23 compared to buying the licenses individually. Fees for the Ultimate Outdoorsman license would increase incrementally by $25 in the third year, and another $25 in the fifth year, based on the proposal. In the fifth year, the $175 license would result in a savings of $33.

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