While only three bills that carry much consequence for hunters have been filed, the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee leaders in the House and Senate say there are some major topics that could arise, if not this year then certainly during this term.
House chairman Scott Bounds (R-Philadelphia) said he foresees a bill to create deer and turkey tagging systems, as well as another one to increase license fees.
“I want to explore a tagging system,” Bounds told The Clarion-Ledger. “I’m getting calls from all over the state saying ‘we aren’t seeing the deer we once saw.’
“The only way to get accurate data is through a tagging system. Will it be perfect? Absolutely not. Will every animal be reported? Absolutely not, but it’s important we protect that resource.”
As for fee increases, Bounds said that it’s bordering on overdue.
“We haven’t had a license fee increase in 22 years,” he said. “Not only hunting and fishing licenses, but all fees related to the (MDWFP). They are not a general fund agency. I think it’s time.”
Bounds said the number he hears the most from constituents is $50 for a Sportsman License, which is currently $31.
Bounds also said it is time for the Legislature and all of state government to commit to the State Parks, the only bureau of the MDWFP to receive general fund support. The annual budget is $6 million when the agency said it takes $20 to operate.
“We can’t quick kicking this down the road,” Bounds said.
The Senate chairman is new, Philip Moran (R-Kiln).
The three bills that are already enrolled are:
* House Bill 150 that would extend the main squirrel season through the first week of March, ending before the youth spring turkey season.
* Senate Bill 2202 that would let all hunters over the age of 75 take any antlered buck during deer season.
* Senate Bill 2151 that would allow mentally handicapped persons to hunt during any youth hunting season with no license requirement.