MDC decides against fee increases

Thursday, January 8, 2009

After receiving numerous letters from the public, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Commission has decided not to increase resident hunting and fishing permit fees. The commission also stopped several other proposed changes that would have affected southwest Missouri hunters and anglers.

"During the recent open comment period, MDC received more than 16,500 written responses at the central office, thousands of inquiries at our regional offices and numerous questions and comments to field staff in reference to permit restructuring," said Travis McLain, Barry County conservation agent. "The two central themes of the comments that were received were strong opposition to the proposed 80-acre threshold for landowner deer and turkey permits and comments on the nation's economic condition.

"Most people indicated that they were strong supporters of conservation and related programs, however, they also indicated that affording increases in permit fees may be tough for them in the current economy," said McLain.

Comments made by Barry County residents mirrored those that were submitted by residents from other parts of the state, said McLain.

In addition to deciding not to increase permit fees, the commission stopped a proposed requirement that would have increased the resident landowner acreage minimum for no-cost deer and turkey permits from five acres to 80 acres. The proposed change would have also eliminated lessee privileges.

"A growing number of Missourians are small-acreage landowners and many embrace wildlife management as a primary purpose for some if not all of their land," said John Hoskins, MDC director. "We support them, and all landowners, and recognize the many habitat benefits that result from landowner efforts."

The commission also decided not to move forward with a recommendation to establish a senior permit, which would replace the current regulation that allows people over 65 years old to hunt small game and fish without a permit.

"It is important to note that while the proposed resident permit fee increases have caused a lot of discussion," said McLain, "there have been some very beneficial recommendations that the commission has elected to move forward with as part of the permit restructuring process."

The commission plans to move forward with recommendations that will increase the price of non-resident permits, standardize the age requirement for mentors who accompany youth hunters, establish a minimum age of 6 years for obtaining deer and turkey hunting permits and replace the existing youth deer and turkey hunting permits with regular permits that will be sold to youngsters for 50 percent of the regular permit fee.

"MDC has a rich history of being a citizen-led and citizen-driven conservation department," said McLain. "Citizen involvement and trust have been an essential part of the numerous conservation successes that we have all enjoyed throughout the history of MDC.

"It is my hope that continued citizen involvement and support like we have just seen during the recent permit restructuring process will lead to even more conservation successes in the future," said McLain.

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