MDC proposes adjusting permit prices and wants public input

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Most MDC permit prices have not increased in 20 years while MDC costs keep going up.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is proposing adjusting prices for most hunting, fishing, trapping, and commercial permits in an effort to keep up with rising costs of goods and services it uses to manage its more than 1,000 conservation areas along with nature centers, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, and other facilities.

MDC received initial approval on the proposed permit price adjustments from the Missouri Conservation Commission at the Commission’s May 19 open meeting at City Hall in Washington, Mo.

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Missouri is home to more than 1 million anglers, 500,000 hunters, and several thousand trappers. MDC issues nearly 2.6 million hunting, fishing, and trapping permits each year. Most MDC permit prices have remained the same for the past 20 years while costs for goods and services have increased significantly since then.

“In early 2003, the price of a resident firearms deer permit was $17 and the cost of a gallon of unleaded gas was $1.42,” explained MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “Jump ahead two decades to May 2023 when the cost of a resident firearms deer permit is still $17 while the cost of a gallon of gas is about $3.30. That cost increase really adds up considering MDC purchased nearly 908,000 gallons of gas in 2022 to run vehicles and equipment.”

Pauley added that, on average, most resident hunting and fishing permit prices would be adjusted by about $1.

“Compared to other states, Missouri permit prices are in the middle-to-lower end of the scale and would still be a bargain,” she said. “The average price of a resident firearm deer permit for surrounding states is $54 compared to Missouri’s proposed price of $18.

Additional revenue from permit sales will help MDC maintain and improve its nationally recognized programs and services for hunters, anglers, wildlife watcher, and others. Conservation efforts supported by revenue from permit sales include:

  • Maintaining and improving nine fish hatcheries around the state that raise and stock more than 7 million fish annually for public fishing – including about 1.3 million trout at five hatcheries.
  • Maintaining and improving more than 70 public shooting ranges around the state.
  • Ongoing habitat work on nearly 1,000 conservation areas, including 15 intensively managed wetlands for public hunting and wildlife watching.
  • Expansion of popular youth offerings such as the Missouri Archery in the Schools Program, which has reached more than 200,000 young archers at nearly 700 Missouri schools, and the Discover Nature Schools Program, which helps more than 87,000 Missouri students each year at more than 700 schools around the state learn about and connect with Missouri outdoors.
  • Helping more than 24,000 landowners create and maintain habitat for wildlife.
  • Research on health and sustainability of deer, turkey, quail, waterfowl, songbirds, fish, bears, elk, and other species.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of harvest regulations for fish and wildlife game species and understanding resource-user preferences.
  • Restoration, monitoring, and protection of imperiled and endangered species and habitats.
  • Removal of invasive species that threaten the health of native species and habitats.
  • Maintaining and improving 15 nature and interpretative centers around the state.

Pauley added that most Missourians are generally familiar with some of the work MDC does, but there are new challenges — with added costs.

“In addition to everything we offer and the work we are known for, we have new and expensive challenges,” she said. “Our staff are dealing with more and new invasive species and wildlife disease outbreaks. And the costs of many things we must buy regularly keep going up, from fuel to fish food.”

Some of the proposed permit price increases are:

  • The price of a resident hunting and fishing permit would go from $19 to $20.50. The average price for surrounding states is $42.47.
  • The price of a resident fishing permit would go from $12 to $13. The average price for surrounding states is $23.
  • The price of a resident small game hunting permit would go from $10 to $10.50. The average price for surrounding states is $26.57.
  • The price of a resident trapping permit would go from$10 to $11. The average price for surrounding states is $29.38.
  • The price of a resident spring turkey permit would go from $17 to $18. The average price for surrounding states is $47.69
  • The price of a resident firearm deer permit would go from $17 to $18. The average price for surrounding states is $54.06.
  • The price of a resident antlerless deer permit would go from $7 to $7.50. The average price for surrounding states is $24.21.
  • The price of a youth resident antlerless deer permit would go from $7 to $7.50. The average price for surrounding states is $24.21.
  • Those under 16 and over 65 years of age will still get no-cost small-game hunting permits and no-cost fishing permits.

For more information on the proposed permit price adjustments, including a complete list of permits, current and proposed prices, average prices of similar permits for surrounding states, the last year the permit prices were raised, and other information, visit MDC online at mdc.mo.gov/permits/permit-price-adjustments-2023.

Permit sales account for about 17 percent of MDC annual revenue. Other significant revenue sources for MDC include the Conservation Sales Tax at about 62 percent and federal reimbursements at about 15 percent of total MDC revenue. Sales and rentals, interest, and other sources make up the remaining 6 percent of MDC revenue. MDC receives no funds through fines from tickets or citations, and no funding from the state’s general revenue funds. For more information, read the MDC Annual Review for Fiscal Year 2022 in the January 2023 issue of the Missouri Conservationist online at mdc.mo.gov/magazines/missouri-conservationist/2023-01/annual-review.

MDC will next seek public comments about its proposed permit price adjustments. To submit a comment, visit mdc.mo.gov/permits/permit-price-adjustments-2023.

MDC will then compile comments received and share them with the Commission prior to the Sept. 8 Commission open meeting when it will give final consideration to the proposed permit price adjustments. If approved, the changes would become effective Feb. 29, 2024.

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