Colorado Fees To Jump Next Year
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
|Nonresidents will pay more next year to hunt big game in Colorado.
House Bill 1448, which increases fees for out-of-state residents seeking licenses to hunt big game such as elk, antelope and deer, was signed by Gov. Bill Owens on May 30. The increases take effect January 1, 2001 and do not affect Colorado residents.
While most big-game fees will increase, bear and mountain lion hunting fees wont change for at least three years because of concerns about the impact predators have on the states deer herd.
The state Division of Wildlife sold 178,900 licenses to non-Colorado residents in 1999, bringing in $34.7 million in revenues. That represents 54 percent of the $53.5 million in license-fee revenues earned in 1999.
The increased fees are expected to bring an additional $3.6 million in fiscal 2001-02. The additional money would primarily cover trout stocking around the state and the implementation of a predator management plan.
In 1999, the Division sold 150,992 of the nonresident big-game licenses that will increase in price next year. Here are the increases for nonresident licenses set for next year and this years fees:
A Colorado resident is anyone who has lived in the state continuously for at least six months immediately before applying for a license, a full-time student at a state college or university, or any member of the U.S. armed services stationed in Colorado or is a Colorado resident but serving elsewhere.
Bear and mountain lion license fees wont increase through the 2002-hunting season. Currently, out-of-state fees for bear and mountain lion hunting licenses are $250 each.
Although given legislative approval in House Bill 1448 to increase bear and mountain lion fees, the Colorado Wildlife Commission intends to hold those nonresident fees pending a review of the impact predators have on wildlife, especially deer and elk.
"In discussions with other commissioners, and based on clear desires to address the role of predators in mule deer decline, I have found strong support for maintaining nonresident bear and mountain lion fees at current levels for at least three years," Commission Chairman Bernard Black wrote in an April 27 letter to Sen. Dave Wattenberg. Wattenberg, R-Walden, cosponsored the bill to increase out-of-state hunting fees along with Rep. Joe Stengel, R-Littleton.
The increases are the first in Colorados hunting fees in 10 years and the fourth in 35 years.
Meanwhile, Wildlife Divisions revenues have fallen short of spending. During fiscal 1998-99, the agency earned $85.3 million in revenues but spent $89.5 million on habitat and species management, recreation, education and agency management.
The increases also put Colorados nonresident hunting fees at a competitive level with other western states, where fees have been substantially higher.
House Bill 1448 also includes a provision allowing the Wildlife Commission to raise nonresident big-game fees each year based on annual adjustments of the Consumer Price Index set by the U.S. Bureau of Labor for the Denver-Boulder metro area.
Based on current Consumer Price Index estimates, nonresident-hunting fees could bring an additional $5 million in fiscal 2002-03, $6 million in fiscal 2003-04 and $7 million in fiscal 2004-05.
With more than $53.5 million from licenses in 1999, hunting and fishing fees make up more than 70 percent of the Divisions revenues. But those revenues are declining.
Assuming no change in hunting and fishing license fees, inflation-adjusted revenue (excluding the Great Outdoors Colorado lottery funds) is expected to decline from a high of $81.5 million in fiscal 1998-99 to $63 million in fiscal 2003-04.
Also, in an effort to help stem the decline in Colorados mule deer population, the Commission eliminated "over-the-counter" deer licenses last year. As a result, the number of deer licenses issued dropped from 155,000 in 1998 to 93,000 in 1999, causing a drop in deer-license revenues from $11.6 million in 1998 to $6.1 million in 1999. Deer license sales are expected to remain at this lower level in the coming years.
All Division of Wildlife brochures and licenses are available at Division offices and certified license agents throughout the state.
For more information about the Divisions licenses and brochures, check out our Web site at www.dnr.state.co.us/wildlife.
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