Hunting license fees could go up

Legislature reviewing four bills

The Colorado Legislature is reviewing four bills that would raise fees for out-of-state hunting licenses, and local sporting goods retailers aren't too concerned with how it will affect business.
Under the legislation, a non-resident would have to pay $450 for an elk license compared to the current $250 fee. Deer licenses would also increase from $150 to $270.

According to Todd Malmsbury, Division of Wildlife (DOW) spokesman, the increase is due to the DOW financial situation.

"We're operating in the red now and we simply can't continue at this rate," said Malmsbury.

The DOW makes 72 percent of its revenue through licenses. Last year, revenue went down by $9 million. The DOW lost $6 million from deer licenses because they were not offered over-the-counter, and another $3 million on elk licenses because the either-sex licenses were not offered.

"Our revenue is down and there is no prospect of it going up," said Malmsbury. "We are planning to make cutbacks across the board."

All DOW programs will experience cutbacks accept for law enforcement. Even if the legislation is approved, the DOW will have to wait for the money, according to Malmsbury. License fees have already been set for the upcoming hunting season so the change in fees will not come until the 2001 season.

"The earliest we will see any money in the coffer is 2002," said Malmsbury.

The last time licenses fees were raised was 1990. Malmsbury believes the DOW, the Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Wildlife Commission all support the fee increase.

David Hutton, owner of Craig Sports, believes the increase is acceptable as long as the DOW doesn't cut back on out-of-state hunters through limiting licenses.

"If they go to total draw for licenses and raise license fees then it will be detrimental," said Hutton. "Now it is time for them to consider going back to over-the-counter for deer."

Jim Simos, owner of Cashway Distributors, believes business would go down at first but then would return.

"This is what we proposed three years ago," said Simos. "It would cut back on some of the non-resident hunters, but they would return. Any time you raise prices you lose business, but customers return once they figure out you still have the best price."

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