The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is increasing hunting, fishing and trapping license fees this year. The agency said rising inflation and declining license sales have meant fewer dollars for its Division of Fish and Wildlife — which relies on those license fees to fund its programs.
Many individual hunting and fishing license fees haven’t changed since the early 2000s and several commercial ones have stayed the same since the 1980s. Many of the commercial license fees were set in state law until 2017 and so the DNR didn’t have the authority to change them until recently.
Linnea Petercheff is the licensing and permit supervisor for the agency’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. She said the fee increases will not only help keep the division running, but they’ll also go to matching funds for federal grants — which could help more species whose populations are declining.
“There’s a research project being done on gray foxes right now and bobwhite quail. And we’re hoping to be able to do more of those research projects, as well as work with more private landowners on establishing habitat,” she said.
Petercheff said the fee increases should generate another $4 million for the division annually.
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While the higher fees won’t have a big impact on some industries, it might hurt commercial river fishermen. Larry Haycraft catches catfish on the White River and is a master net maker. His license costs will go from $4 a net to $40.
Haycraft said he understands the DNR’s expenses have gone up over the years, but feels higher fees are just another thing pushing Indiana river fishermen out of the business and ending their way of life.
“We’re losing so many a year and we’re taking so much less fish because of the Asian carp and the way the river’s changing,” he said.
Haycraft said Asian carp are competing with catfish — which eat the same food — and there’s no market for selling carp in the state.
The fee for aquatic vegetation control will go from $5 per permit to $20. But businesses that control weeds in lakes and ponds said that’s unlikely to affect them.
Leif Willey is the lake and special project supervisor at Aquatic Control in Seymour. The private company controls aquatic weeds, algae blooms, and manages fish in lakes and ponds. Willey said the proportion of water bodies the company manages that require a permit is fairly small.
The DNR and the Natural Resources Commission worked to create the new license fees by comparing them with fees in other Midwest states and looking at the rising costs of resource management in Indiana.
Licenses for most hunting, fishing, and trapping activities in the state will go up for the license year starting April 1. The DNR’s website has a list of the current costs of the different types of license fees and how they’ll change.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.