Delaware Hunting License Fees May Increase - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Hunting License Fees May Increase

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(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

GEORGETOWN, Del.- Resident and non-resident hunters in Delaware may soon have to pay double what they're paying now for hunting and trapping licenses.

A fee increase proposed by Delaware's Division of Fish and Wildlife would raise the current hunting license fee from $25 to $45, and the trapping license fee from $3 to $10.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife held a public workshop, the second of three, Wednesday evening at Delaware Technical Community College to hear questions and comments from hunters about the proposed fee hike.

The department's director, David Saveikis, said the increase is needed because the number of hunters purchasing licenses has declined significantly since 2008.

Revenue collected from purchased licenses is a major source of funding for the Fish and Wildlife division, in addition to the federal government matching $3 to every $1 the department receives from the licenses.

Some hunters were upset about the possibility of having to pay more in licensing fees even though their money goes toward conserving the grounds they use to hunt.

"We're dependant upon our hunters as customers," Saveikis said. "Hunters pay for conservation in Delaware. They're the ones that conserve our wildlife areas and our wildlife species so we're asking hunters to invest in hunting and wildlife," he said.

At the workshop, many hunters questioned why the department hasn't looked for other funding solutions.

Saveikis said the department has cut costs elsewhere. The department hired 70 percent fewer seasonal employees, eliminated wildlife food plots that attract game, and closed wildlife access roads to reduce the need for road maintenance, among other program cuts.

But even with those eliminations, the department is struggling to keep its programs operating. A Fish and Wildlife study said the number of licensed hunters is expected to continue decreasing 3-8 percent each year due to age exemptions and other factors.

Georgetown resident and lifelong hunter, Dennis Dodd, said the fee may be an inconvenience but it would be more inconvenient not to be able to hunt.

"It's good for the state," said Dodd. "It's helping the wildlife. Either you're going to pay it or you won't hunt," he said.

A DNREC advisory council is expected to vote on the fee hike proposal on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

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