June 17, 2005

Hunter Reduction Act of 2005

Colorado has jacked up fees for hunting licenses. First time in 13 years or so (for residents that is). So why am I ticked off about it? Well, the beauty of having a blog is I can explain why. In depth.

To start off let me go over the way hunting in Colorado works. No, let me start off with the way hunting works in North Carolina so you'll see why I'm not impressed with Colorado's system.

In NC $40 will get a resident a Sportsman's license. What does that include? According to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s .pdf it includes "...Basic Hunting & Fishing, Big Game, Game Lands, Primitive Weapons, NC Waterfowl & Trout".

According to another NC WRC .pdf the Big Game part means you get 1 bear; 2 wild boar; 2 turkey; 6 deer. That's in addition to small game, fishing, using certain state operated game lands, fishing certain state trout waters, using bows or muzzleloaders & the NC waterfowl stamp. You still need the federal waterfowl stamp to hunt waterfowl but that's a universal problem amongst the states.

The seasons? Well they vary a little but basically NC gets divided up into 4 sections for deer & the dates are staggered.

So for $40 you get to hunt big & small game all across the state. The bag limits aren't bad & you just have to be mindful of the season dates in the area you're hunting in. Oh, & that's over the counter. You can grab one in January or the day before you go hunting in November. No drawings to deal with (except for certain game lands for certain species).

Now let's look at Colorado.

For big game there are two types of licenses - those secured by drawing & those sold over the counter. The deadline for licenses by drawing was April 5th. Over the counter licenses for big game won't be available till July 27th.

Now either type of license is for a specific animal in a specific season in a specific area. Let's say I wanted to hunt elk around Canon City, Colorado. I'd have to figure out the are I wanted to hunt in, then check to see which Game Management Unit I'd need to apply for (which the Colorado DOW has a map on .pdf for your convenience), then figure out which season I want to hunt in.

I'm going with GMU 69. Now if I wanted to use a bow or muzzleloader I'd have to apply for a license by drawing (unless I used it during the regular gun season) But I'm going to use a rifle so I could wait till July & just pick one of the left over licenses. Problem is there's no guarantee that there will be a license left over for GMU 69. So I apply by drawing.

So by April 5th I have to figure out that I want to go hunting in season 3, which is November 5th through the 11th so I can apply for a license.

So if I can get my act together by April 5th (which I never do) I send in my $33.25 along with my application to hunt 1 elk in GMU 69 during the third elk/deer season which is November 5th through the 11th. That's it. I can't apply for additional licenses in that unit or any other units. One license for the regular firearms season in GMU 69 for public lands Actually I could apply for what they call a list B or list C license, but those mainly involve archery, private land, or either sex hunts in certain units & it'd be $33.25 per additional license (yet another .pdf & scroll down), but let's assume i don't use a bow or know anyone with private land or want to hunt in the additional areas. Hell, it's complex enough figuring out where & when to hunt with a rifle up to 7 months in advance.

Oh, did I mention each GMU has their own limits on which sex elk you can take during a certain season? GMU 69 allows bull or cow during the third season, but the first season is bull only (.pdf & scroll down a little).

So if I go through all that I probably (not definitely) will get to hunt 1 elk in GMU 69 during the third season. & certain public lands require a special access permit on top of the elk license, so that's another $5.

That's just for elk. Repeat the hassle for deer or most other big game animals, as well as the fees (albeit the fees vary with each species).

It took me several hours over a few days to figure out where I wanted to hunt when I first got to Colorado. Now can you imagine coming from the NC system & trying to accept the Colorado one?

But now they've increased the fees. That elk license will run $45 next year, not including the $3.25 application fee.

There's also a Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp to deal with now, which adds $5 if you get it with your license. Add to that a 75 cent surcharge on each license to fund the Wildlife Management Public Education Advisory Council. A Sportsman's Advisory Group was created & helped implement the fee increases. Here's their page on the Colorado DOW site.

So we're looking at $49 to apply for a license by drawing for elk.

Want to know who to thank for the 16 dollar increase in your elk license? Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has a list for ya.

Bastards. Sportsman's groups approving hunting & fishing license fee increases? The reasons that have been passed around have all had to do with the DOW needing more funds to do a better job. But look, we're talking about wild game. They generally got along fine without a government agency taking care of them. Or maybe we should be grateful we instituted government when we did otherwise all wildlife would have perished due to lack of management?

The reasons they generally gave for the increases just don't fly. Don't believe me? Well RMGO has a few things for you to look at concerning hunting revenue & the need for increasing it through a fee increase.

RMGO calls this law the Hunter Reduction Act of 2005. I have to agree that only an economically ig'nent bastard would think that jacking up the fees will increase demand for a product. Sure, per unit the product is generating more revenue but what good is that if the total sales of the product decline due to the price increase?

If I'm still here net year I might pay it, then again I might just look into hunting in other states, or not hunt at all. If I'm not here next year then this kind of BS will be a contributing factor to my moving on.

Or I might take up poaching.

Before you gasp & start filling the comments let me explain:

Most states, including Colorado & NC treat hunting as a privilege. I on the other hand I know it to be a Right. If I’m hungry & have no other means then I'm going to kill something & eat it, license or not. Game animals do not belong to the king state; they belong to no one until they're "reduced to possession" (to borrow a phrase from NC's WRC).

I understand the need & value of having limits on how many of which species may be killed every year & I on the most part agree with & abide by the concept (though I occasionally differ on the specifics i still abide by them). But I've always been opposed to the idea of requiring a license by fee in order to hunt or fish. It's immoral to charge me for something you don't own & it's no different when a group does it.

If me & twelve of my friends told you in order to look at the sky on a certain night you had to pay us $5 how long would it take you to tell us to go to hell? The hunting & fishing license concept is no different. So in principle even though I've always paid for a license I've always viewed it as an immoral exercise of state power.

Sure; state DOW's can be helpful in figuring out which species needs to be hunted or not & in what numbers in a given area. That could be viewed as a legitimate function of a government agency. But between the state sales tax & state income tax I'm pretty sure they have enough to fund it without extorting me every time I want some fresh game.

So poaching, while frowned upon by most is not something I have ever viewed as morally wrong. Market hunting is, but poaching for your own sustenance isn't.

So I'm not saying I will poach, but it's an option for me (at least morally) & BS like these license fee increases are making it more attractive practically. I seriously doubt I'm the only one in this state who feels this way.

& btw; if you're pissed about the license increases & belong to one of the orgs that RMGO listed as testifying on behalf of the increases, ya might want to either raise some hell within that org or loudly (i.e. at the next meeting) resign your membership & explain in detail why.

Posted by Publicola at June 17, 2005 05:20 PM
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