Reduced Fees for Young Anglers and Hunters
In the 2013 Guide, I wrote about the huge contribution that hunters and anglers make in supporting conservation through the purchase of licenses and gear. We showed that all of this revenue comes back to our Agency and is used to fund fish and wildlife programs, and that revenue from sportsmen accounts for approximately 85% of the annual Bureau of Natural Resources budget. Most importantly, all Connecticut residents, particularly sportsmen, should be proud of what they have achieved in conserving fish and wildlife populations and habitat. In the 2014 Guide, we emphasized that it is not just about the money. Our collective ability to succeed in conserving critical habitat for fishing and hunting is a function of having the financial resources, public support, and political will to get the job done and done right. The funding provided by sportsmen is our foundation, but it is the large number of hunters and anglers found across all walks of life in Connecticut that is the engine that makes all of this possible.
Following the publication of last year’s Guides, we received correspondence from many people who felt that the price of licenses and permits was a disincentive for young sportsmen to continue hunting and fishing after they reach age 16. Data collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the large number of anglers under the age of 16 compared with the much smaller number that goes on to buy a fishing license supports this point of view. That is why DEEP proposed legislation last year to reduce fees for anglers and hunters aged 16 and 17. The General Assembly subsequently supported this proposal and the Governor signed it into law as Public Act 14-201. There are many important components to this legislation; however, the key part of the bill is as follows: “The fee charged for any firearms hunting, archery hunting, trapping or sport fishing license that is issued to any Connecticut resident who is sixteen or seventeen years of age shall be equal to fifty per cent of the fee provided for such license in subsection (a) of this section, rounded to the next highest dollar.” In plain English that translates into a 50% reduction in all license fees for 16 and 17-year old hunters and anglers. Additionally, a companion section in the bill provides a 50% reduction in hunting and sport fishing permit, tag, and stamp fees for all 16 and 17-year old hunters and anglers.
In addition, we continue to do everything within our capacity to maximize opportunities for youth to take our Conservation Education/Firearms Safety and Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education courses. Taking these courses establishes and strengthens family/mentor/mentee relationships centered around hunting and fishing and represents an important step to becoming a lifetime sportsman and conservationist. The heroes who make this possible are the 500+ volunteer instructors who donate countless hours of their time to teach these classes.
The challenge to all of us is to jump on board and make 2015 the year we take advantage of every opportunity to get potential young sportsmen into the field and on the water. Together we can make a difference!
Thank you and best wishes for a great year of hunting and fishing in Connecticut.
William A. Hyatt
Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.