Jones Gives DWR Legislative Update
|Anglers may be paying more for their fishing licenses if the legislature approves a $2 increase for fishing licenses.|
Derris Jones reported to the Emery County Public Lands Council at their January meeting. He mentioned the legislative session and the items the Division of Wildlife Resources is watching for the sportsmen. The item on reducing the age for hunters passed the RAC and will now be presented to the legislature. A no-minimum age was recommended for small game hunters as long as they had passed hunter's safety. A 12 year age limit for big game hunters successfully completing hunter's education is recommended. Jones said they are cracking down on hunter safety and making sure the kid's pass and aren't given second chances. Jones said they are losing kids before they have time to develop an interest in hunting and fishing and by lowering the age limits they hope to attract and keep young people's interest.
Another bill before the legislature that has potential to damage the DWR calls for people in arrears with their child support to not be eligible for hunting and fishing licenses. A $400,000 fiscal note is attached to the bill as the DWR would be responsible for removing licenses from those individuals which would be a personnel nightmare for the division.
The governor's budget offers a generous cost of living increase, but with the recent buyouts and cashouts on retirements that have taken place, this will take a bigger chunk from each division. The DWR was not planning to go for a license rate increase this year, but if they don't get one programs will have to be cut and personnel cuts will be needed.
A family fishing license is also being discussed with a reduced bag limit. No details yet. The proposed increases are: resident fishing license, (14-64 years of age), from $26 to $28; resident small game license, (14 years of age and older), from $17 to $20; resident combination license, (12 years of age and older), from $34 to $37; resident general season deer permit, from $40 to $45; and big game application fee from $5 to $10, with no increase on seniors.
Over the last five years there has been a reduction of 100,000 fishing licenses purchased in Utah. The deer license sales are capped at 97,000 and they sell out every year with much more demand than licenses available. "We would love to get the deer population up so we can sell more licenses. With one year of good fawn production the numbers are up, but we need several years of good production," said Jones. "The division has gone to a 365 day fishing license since Dec. 1, 2005. When you buy a fishing license it will be good for one year from the day of purchase. We hope this will encourage the purchase of more yearly fishing licenses.
"Rabbit hunters found two deer up by Wattis that had their heads cut off. The DWR is offering a reward for information in this case. The RAC where the permit numbers will be discussed is March 15 with the board meeting on April 6. The antlerless cow tags will be discussed in RAC on April 18 with the board meeting on April 27. We have had two retirements from our Southeastern office. We lost a law enforcement officer and the East Carbon officer. The office will be in a state of flux for the next three years with the shuffle of personnel. We now have two officers above I-70 and two below, we may get someone new in July.
"The bison count on the Henrys was incomplete and we are trying to redo that this winter. It's usually been done in July, but we're trying something new and it started Jan. 9 and I'll report the numbers next month. Twenty-five head of antelope were transplanted from Wayne County to three spots in the Swell," reported Jones.