Hunters who hope to bag a trophy whitetail, like this one taken in Pennsylvania a few years back, may soon have to pay more for the privilege.
A state senator from Bucks County is behind legislation that would increase the cost of Pennsylvania hunting and furtaking licenses fees.
Republican Charles T. McIlhinney is prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1148. It was referred to that chamber’s game and fisheries committee on March 4.
The bill isn’t a surprise. Word of it came out months ago; Friday’s introduction just made it official.
It would increase fees in this way for those who live here:
- Adult resident hunting license: from $19 to $29
- Resident bear license: $15 to $20
- Resident antlerless deer: $5 to $10
- Resident archery: $15 to $20
- Resident muzzleloader: $10 to $20
- Adult resident furtaker: $19 to $29
- Resident migratory game bird: $2 to $5
- Resident special wild turkey: $20 to $25
It would change fees for those who don’t in this way:
- Adult nonresident hunting: $100 to $150
- Nonresident bear license: $35 to $40
- Nonresident antlerless deer: $25 to $40
- Nonresident archery: $25 to $40
- Nonresident muzzleloader: $20 to $40
- Seven-day nonresident small game: $30 to $50
- Adult nonresident furtaker: $80 to $100
- Nonresident migratory game bird: $5 to $10
- Nonresident special wild turkey: $40 to $50
McIlhinney’s bill would also create several new kinds of licenses. The most interesting is what’s called the “ultimate outdoor combo.” Buyers would get not only a general license, but also bear, archery, muzzleloader, furtaker, migratory game bird and special wild turkey stamps, at a savings over buying them all individually.
Reisdents would pay $110 for a combo; that’s a savings of $38. Nonresidents would pay $350, saving $80.
Other new licenses created under the bill would be:
- Senior nonresident hunting: $100
- Senior nonresident furtaker: $80
- Senior nonresident hunting and furtaker combo: $150
That’s all pretty close to what the Game Commission itself suggested in outlining a potential fee hike package last fall. The only difference is that the commission’s proposal called for smaller, incremental increases every year for five years after the initial hike.
Those were meant to be “cost of living” type increases.
McIlhinney’s bill makes no mention of those.
He explained the thinking behind his bill in a memo to fellow lawmakers seeking cosponsors. Three other lawmakers have signed on as supporters so far: Allegheny County Democrat James Brewster and Republicans Rich Alloway of Adams County and Mario Scavello of Monroe. Scavello is chairman of the Senate game and fisheries committee.
Here’s what McIlhinney had to say:
“The Game Commission is responsible for managing 480 species of birds and mammals throughout the Commonwealth. Additionally, the PGC maintains over 1.5 million acres of State Game Lands.
“As one of the Commonwealth’s independent agencies, the PGC does not receive any general fund tax dollars. Instead, they rely solely on income derived from the sale of licenses, fines, federal reimbursement, natural resource agreements, right-of-way contracts, etc. License sales make up nearly 40 percent of the total revenue brought in each year. With the other streams of revenue in decline, the PGC needs to bolster their ability to generate income to avoid further, and detrimental cuts in operations.
“The PGC has not received a license increase since 1999. This proposal would give them the ability to continue providing the valuable services that hunters and citizens alike have come to appreciate. This increase would apply to general hunting and trapping licenses, as well as add-on permits. It is important to note that general hunting and trapping licenses for junior and senior hunters would remain unchanged.”