IRONWOOD — State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, said he’s not buying the Department of Natural Resources’ plan to raise hunting and fishing licenses.
According to the DNR, most licenses would increase substantially.
Deer licenses would be hiked from $15 to $20, bear licenses would increase from $15 to $25 and non-resident fishing licenses would be increased from $42 to $75, according to a DNR summary of the proposed changes that’s posted online.
Also, the popular 24-hour fishing license would more than double, from $7 to $15.
Dianda said he fears the license fee hike money will go into the pockets of DNR employees in the form of raises and not go to enhance fishing and wildlife programs.
“I’m strongly opposed to it,” Dianda said at a a town hall meeting last Saturday at Mike’s Restaurant in Ironwood. He said the higher fees would be a deterrent to businesses that rely on hunting and fishing.
Dianda noted the license hikes would generate an estimated $18 million, and he said $4.5 million would be used to hire more conservation officers.
Some licenses, like trapping and turkey, would stay the same, but the senior deer license would increase from $6 to $8.
The DNR estimates the fee hikes would result in a 7 percent decline in license sales.
The proposed changes would not take effect until March 1, 2014.
DNR officials said Michigan’s hunting and fishing license fees have not increased in more than 15 years.
In his 2013-’14 budget, Gov. Rick Snyder outlined a restructured package of licenses.
DNR officials said the extra money would better support the state’s fishing and wildlife habitat programs and strengthen the ranks of conservation officers.