Our View

It’s about time.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is taking public comment on 11 proposed increases to hunting and fishing fees. The first price hike in 20 years is estimated to bring in an extra $2.4 million in license fees starting next year in the proposal by state conservation officials.

Think about it. The cost of almost everything has gone up in the last 20 years. Average inflation has topped 2% annually between 1999 and 2019. The price of bread is more than 76% higher today than in 1999. The price of gasoline is about 87% higher. Yet the fees that manage and protect our hunting and fishing and its supporting infrastructure have remained unchanged.

Many of the changes will be to nonresident hunting and fishing permits, with the biggest change coming in the fee for nonresident deer hunting licenses — from $225 to $265 starting next year. The largest part of the revenue increase will come from people who purchase nonresident hunting licenses according to a story originally reported July 5 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

But there will be changes that affect residents, notably an increase in trout fees. The cost of an annual trout permit will go from $7 to $10 for anglers 16 and older and from $3.50 to $5 for anglers 15 and younger. The cost of a daily trout tag to fish Roaring River or the other state trout parks will go from $3 to $4 for adults and from $2 to $3 for those 15 and younger.

According to MDC, in 2003, the cost to raise and stock trout in Missouri streams was about $1 per fish; by 2017, it was twice that just for the food and labor. Further, Department Director Sara Parker Pauley earlier told the Globe the state has spent more than $11 million in recent years repairing and improving its hatcheries. Last fall, it broke ground on a $1.9 million renovation at Roaring River.

You can weigh in on the proposals. Public comments on the changes are being taken at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49. No one likes to pay more for anything, but it is easy to see the need for the increase.

Most of us who hunt or fish understand the importance of user fees to support the outdoor sports we love. The increase that residents are being asked to pick up is reasonable, and the bulk of the cost bump will be borne by out-of-state hunters and anglers.

After 20 years, it is about time for the change.

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