One of the most common fish and game violations detected by conservation officers doesn’t occur in the field, but at the license vendor. The violation is known as fraudulent license purchase, or purchase of a wrong class license, and it occurs when a nonresident purchases a resident license using some sort of misrepresentation.
The reasons behind these fraudulent license purchases are usually as diverse as the people committing the crime. In Idaho between 2015–18, there were 1,071 wrong class license violations detected by officers. The underlying reason for trying to cheat the system is typically to save money while maximizing use of Idaho’s hunting and fishing opportunities.
To be an Idaho resident for hunting, trapping, and fishing purposes, you must have lived in Idaho for the past six months, and have either a valid Idaho driver’s license, or if you are a non-driver, a valid Idaho Identification card. Property ownership and payment of property taxes alone are not enough to establish residency.
Since Idaho Fish and Game receives no general tax money, much of the agency's funding comes from the sales of licenses to those who hunt, fish or trap, with about 57 percent of that license and tag revenue being generated through nonresident sales. Nonresidents pay considerably more for the same hunting and fishing privileges as residents.
The penalties for buying a wrong class license can be very high, including stiff fines and restitution to Fish and Game for the revenue lost because of the illegal purchase, and a mandatory license revocation in nearly all 50 states. During one wrong class license investigation in 2018, officers discovered that a husband and wife had been cheating the system by using the address of a friend to purchase resident hunting and fishing licenses. Both were sentenced to a one year loss of licenses and a total reimbursement to Fish and Game of nearly $12,000.
If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a resident, please contact your local Fish and Game Regional Office.