The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism recently announced it was seeking an increase in the fees it would charge to purchase state hunting and fishing licenses, as well as deer, turkey and trout permits.
While I am a fan of many of the programs the KDWPT provides, especially the ones for children to get them involved in the outdoors — such as the Pass It On program — I have concerns about the rising cost of hunting and fishing in the state of Kansas.
As an example, a lifetime hunting and fishing license in 2004 — the year I received mine as a 16-year-old — was $600. Accounting for inflation, that would be $757.98 in today’s dollars. Currently, the cost of a lifetime combination license has ballooned to $882.50, and if these newest increases take effect in 2016, would increase to $960 — an increase of 60 percent over 12 years.
The KDWPT also alluded to the notion it was due for a raise in fees, noting the agency considered fee increases in 2008 but decided against it. That’s true, but it ignores the fact that seniors 65 and older, who at one time were exempt from having to purchase a hunting or fishing license, now must purchase licenses to hunt and fish until they are 75 years old after Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill that ended the exemption in 2012.
If the KDWPT is unable to afford everything it wants to offer residents — and keep in mind the additional money would be going into a reserve — perhaps it should consider spending cuts rather than raising fees. Another idea would be to outsource some of its operations to private entities or pay for its services with money raised through nonprofit organizations, similar to the way groups like Ducks Unlimited raise money through banquets and merchandise. They also could consider goodwill donations when purchasing licenses rather than mandating more fees. Otherwise, what’s the good in offering public land, stocked ponds and other services to hunters and anglers if they can’t afford to use them?