ODFW eyes license, tag fee hikes, program cuts

Drop in number of people buying licenses cited

Fish and hunting fees could increase

BEND, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to increase the fees you pay for fishing and hunting.

ODFW officials said they need to make up a $32 million gap for the 2015-2017 biennium.

On its Website, ODFW said its proposed budget "reduces costs by cutting programs and personnel costs and through increased efficiency. To increase revenue, the department will be proposing to raise fees for recreational and commercial licenses, tags and permits and create new license types."

"The budget proposal also recommends shifting funding for conservation, habitat, law enforcement and other programs that benefit the entire state off license dollars onto state general fund revenues," the agency said.

The proposed fee increases have some sportsmen wondering why?

"I'd like to know why it continues to grow and cause such a burden on the sportsman," John Rudnicki said Wednesday evening at a public meeting in Bend on the budget plan.

ODFW Director Roy Elicker said a 15 percent drop in fishing licenses is one reason for the planned increases.

"As people go out and spend less time outdoors hunting and fishing, that directly impacts our bottom line," Elicker said.

Despite the cuts, Elicker believes very little will change for fishermen and hunters.

"The way we've designed these increases is to really make sure there's very little impact on participation," Elicker said.

One fisherman told us he thinks participation isn't down, but fewer people are buying state licenses, due to the cost.

"It's for various reasons," Mark Schafer said. "They can't afford one and need food, they go out and catch a fish."

What about gear? Weston Cowell fishes at Pine Nursery Park, and said a good pole can help you make a catch and keep you coming back for more.

"You use your fishing pole for 20 years, if you take care of it," Cowell said. "It will last as long as you take care of it. It's just like anything else."

Rudnicki used to fish more often, but now only goes four to eight times a year. He said that's because the rules are just too complicated.

"I think I just kind of got worn down with the whole thing, and got concerned about going up there and being able to satisfy all the rules and regulations," Rudnicki said.

Between now and 2020, the proposal would hike the cost of a fishing license from the current $33 to $43. The last increase was in 2010

You can learn more about ODFW's proposed budget here:

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