Why do I have to pay an extra $5 for my license? It’s a question that will commonly be asked when hunters, anglers and trappers buy their 2018 licenses, so here’s a quick refresher.
The “Access / Depredation fee” is a new, one-time annual fee that applies to everyone – residents and nonresidents alike – when they buy their first annual license of the year. Resident adults pay $5, nonresident adults pay $10, and people such as juniors and seniors who are eligible for discounted licenses also get a discounted fee.
The Access / Depredation fee is in addition to your annual license, but only applies to the first annual license you buy each year and is valid through the end of the calendar year. So if you buy a hunting license in 2018 and later buy a trapping license during 2018, you won’t be charged for the fee again. But in 2019, you will be charged again when you buy your first annual 2019 license.
Similarly, if your first license purchase in 2018 is a trapping license (which runs from July 1 through June 30 of the next year), the Access / Depredation fee that is purchased at the same time is valid from date of purchase through December 31 of that year; even though the trapping license expires in the middle of 2019.
So what’s it for? As the name implies, the money pays for sportsman access to private lands and across private lands to public lands, and it will be used for Fish and Game programs to acquire sportsmen’s access through lease or easement, such as the Access Yes! program.
The depredation part of the fee goes to compensate landowners when wildlife damages their property, typically for agriculture lands and crops. This is also a long-standing program, but the fee provides more money to fund it. Money will also be used to prevent wildlife damage to crops and improve wildlife habitat in an effort to keep animals away from private land.
Here’s how the estimated $2 million raised annually from the Access / Depredation fee will be spent as money in the account builds:
- The first $500,000 adds to funding that compensate landowners for crop damages caused by big game animals, up to $2.5 million annually based on available cash balance.
- The next $500,000 adds money to prevent crop damage from big game herds.
- The remaining $1 million will be spent to improve access to private land from willing landowners for hunting, fishing and trapping.