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Passing the Buck

By Justin Williams - Idaho Department of Fish and Game Every year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game loses thousands of dollars when nonresidents claim to be residents. Those lost dollars could have been spent on Idaho's wildlife, habitat and better access for hunters and anglers. Simply owning property and paying property taxes does not entitle a person to buy a resident license. According to Idaho state law, a resident is someone who has lived in Idaho for at least six months with the intent to stay. A valid Idaho driver's license, filing state income taxes, being a registered voter, and being granted a home owner's exemption are all helpful when qualifying for residency. Why would anyone try to cheat? The short answer is to save money. Residents generally pay about one-sixth to one-tenth the amount that nonresidents pay for the same license. In fact, of the western states, Idaho has some of the lowest license fees for residents and the highest for nonresidents. For example, if a nonresident illegally buys a resident combination hunting-fishing license for $33.50, instead of the nonresident price of $199.75, the state loses nearly $167. If he then buys a resident elk tag for $30.75 instead of the nonresident price of $372.50, the state loses an additional $340 for a combined total of more than $500. When a nonresident claims to be a resident of Idaho and purchases a resident license, only that buyer receives any benefit. Unfortunately, Idaho's residents and wildlife both lose. Just like insurance fraud or theft, law-abiding citizens end up paying the cost in many ways. Not only are they likely to pay more for their own licenses and fees, but the resource enjoyed by hunters and anglers-Idaho's wildlife-also suffers. Fewer dollars means fewer habitat improvement projects, less noxious weed control, fewer access sites, and less time to monitor wildlife populations. Anyone who knows a nonresident who buys resident hunting, fishing or trapping licenses please call the local regional Fish and Game office or the Citizen's Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous and rewards are offered for information. Justin Williams is the Salmon Region district conservation officer.