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Conservation Commission approves fee increases for trout, nonresident permits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The cost to hunt and fish on public lands will increase in the coming year. 

Last week, the Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval to raise the price for annual trout permits, daily trout tags, nonresident hunting permits, and nonresident fishing permits. Landowners will also see acreage alterations for free deer and turkey permits.

The changes will take effect in 2020. 

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), some permit prices have remained the same since 1999 while others have been the same for roughly a decade. It noted adjustments are needed to “help keep up with increasing costs of providing conservation work and services around the state.” 

During the Friday commission meeting, one of the commissioners inquired about doing small, incremental fee increases as needed instead of large increases after decades of no change. A representative from MDC indicated that would be the preference.

The department receives zero funding from general revenue. Permit sales account for about 17 percent of its annual revenue with 61 percent from the Conservation Sales Tax;  federal reimbursements also make up about 16 percent. Sales and rentals, interest, and other sources make up the remaining 6 percent of the agency’s revenue.

Trout permits and daily tags

Starting Feb. 29, 2020, the cost of an annual trout permit will go from $7 to $10 for anglers who are at least 16 years old and from $3.50 to $5 for anglers ages 15 and younger. The cost of a daily trout tag to fish at three of Missouri’s four trout parks — Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park — will go from $3 to $4 for adults and $2 to $3 for those 15 years old and younger.

MDC will begin a pilot program at Maramec Spring Park — one of the state’s trout parks. Beginning next year, the daily limit will be raised to five trout — up from four — and the cost of a daily tag will go from $3 to $5 for adults  and $2 to $3 for anglers 15 years of age and younger.

“The five-fish-for-$5 pilot at Maramec Spring will allow us to survey anglers to determine their level of satisfaction,” MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said in a statement. “Gathering input from our anglers and area users is critical as we look at ways to recruit new anglers.”

The pilot program was not part of the original fee increase proposed in May but came about following a public comment period. 

Nonresident hunting and fishing permits

Beginning Feb. 29, 2020, a nonresident deer hunting permit will cost $265, up from $225, and a nonresident annual fishing permit will increase from $42 to $49, among a variety of other increases for nonresident permits.  

Nonresident permitCurrent priceProposed priceNeighboring states price
Daily Fishing (1 Day)$7 $8 $15
Daily Fishing (3 Days) $21$24 $27
NR Annual Fishing $42$49$49
NR Furbearer Hunting/Trapping$130$192$257
NR Annual Small Game Hunting$80$94$111
Daily Small Game (1 Day) $11 $14$59
Daily Small Game (3 Days) $33 $42 $74
NR Conservation Order$40$47N/A
NR Spring Turkey Hunting $190$224$206
NR Fall Turkey Hunting$110 $130 $177
NR Firearm Deer Hunting $225$265 $361
NR Archery Hunting $225$265 $398
NR Managed Deer Hunting $225$265 N/A

As part of the changes, MDC will also limit daily fishing permits and daily hunting permits to one and three days and eliminate daily fishing permits and daily hunting permits for other numbers of days (two, four, five, six, and seven).

Landowner permits

Effective Jan. 15, 2020, resident landowners with a minimum of 20 acres will be able to receive free permits for deer and turkey hunting — up from five acres. 

Hunting small game, fish on waters of the state, and trapping on qualifying properties without the need of a permit will still be allowed for resident landowners with five or more acres. 

MDC will offer discounted deer and turkey permits for nonresident landowners with 75 acres or more in a contiguous tract. The discount for nonresident landowners is similar to a past regulation that was in effect until 2009.

MDC eliminated the offering during its last round of permit changes in 2008.

Nonresident permitCurrent priceProposed priceProposed nonresident landowner price
Spring Turkey $190$224 $165
Fall Turkey $110$130$96
Archery$225 $265$195
Firearm Deer$225 $265$195

As part of the changes, the department is implementing a landowner registry in an attempt to eliminate misuse of landowner permits and privileges. 

According to MDC, conservation agents around the state find several hundred related violations each year. A review by conservation agents in 2017 found a 35 percent misuse of deer and turkey hunting landowner privileges. Prior to 2004, landowners wanting no cost landowner deer and turkey hunting privileges were required to provide proof by mailing the appropriate information to MDC.

The registry will provide secure records of landowners and members of their households who qualify for the free and discounted permits. The electronic registry will also provide proof of land ownership and boundaries of the properties for which the free and discounted permits apply. 

Other details

The Conservation Commission also:

  • Approved the exchange of two tracts containing 0.19 acre and 0.98 acre, respectively, of August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County for one tract containing 1.17 acres as an addition to August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area
  • Approved the exchange of approximately 35 acres of Poplar Bluff Conservation Area in Butler County for approximately 11 acres as an addition to Poplar Bluff Conservation Area, together with compensation for the difference in the amount of acreage being exchanged
  • Approved the sale of approximately 584,512 board feet of timber located on 173 acres of Compartment 3, Birch Creek Conservation Area in Shannon County
  • Approved the sale of approximately 469,676 board feet of timber located on 139 acres of Compartment 4, Logan Creek Conservation Area in Reynolds County
  • Approved the sale of an estimated 1,652,260 board feet of timber located on 551 acres of Compartment 3, Current River Conservation Area in Shannon County