In the summer of 2016, Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources announced the agency’s mounting concern about the significant decline in participation among anglers and hunters.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, approximately 40 percent of Minnesotans above the age of 16 purchased a fishing license. Today that same is only about 27 percent, while only 12 percent of residents in that age group hunt.
Six months later, a growing deficit is set to plague the Department’s fish and game fund. The fund, receiving funding from a number of sources, is used to provide hunting and fishing opportunities, protect fish and wildlife, protect and conserve habitat and in outreach efforts to grow the population of resident hunters and anglers.
Taking no money from the state, the fund’s biggest source of revenues comes from the sales of hunting and fishing license and is now facing a looming deficit that is expected to rear its head within the next 12 months.
Revenues in the state have been falling and when weighed against expenses, the state is losing roughly $3.3 million a year and the Department would be forced to make cuts before the fund illegally operates at a loss.
Minnesota lawmakers along with Gov. Mark Dayton are expected to put forth a proposal early next week as he unveils his budget plan. What many are expecting is a funding package that will inevitably include raised fees for fishing and hunting licenses in an attempt to get the fund back in the black.
The last time the state experienced an increase in license fees was in 2013 and before that, was 12 years prior. Current prices based on the 2013 increase are $22 for a fishing license and $30 for a deer hunting license. The new budget is expected to increase by $76 million to $1.07 billion in spending for the 2018-2019 biennial budget period, if approved. Under these assumptions, a resident fishing license would increase to $25 and a standard deer hunting license would rise to $34.