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Conservation Commission preliminarily approves fee increases for trout, nonresident permits

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

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is proposing to raise the price for annual trout permits, daily trout tags, nonresident hunting permits, and nonresident fishing permits. The increases received preliminary approval from the Missouri Conservation Commission last week.

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

“The Conservation Department has not increased [trout] permit prices in nearly two decades,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “We are adjusting these permit prices — which were set in 1999 — to make them more in line with today’s real costs of the work we do. The price increases will help MDC meet the pressures of increased management costs at our hatcheries and help meet the increased demand for trout fishing around the state.”

“We commonly hear from many Missourians that our nonresident permit prices are too low compared to other states,” she added. “Increasing prices for nonresident hunting and fishing permits will address this. It will also add needed revenue to help with our ever-rising costs of managing the fish, forests, and wildlife of Missouri.”

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.

As part of the rulemaking process, the department is asking for public comment on the changes during July and early August at The Conservation Commission will consider input received and make a final decision to move forward, modify, or withdraw the changes during its August 23 meeting. If approved, the anticipated effective date of the changes would be February 29, 2020.

Trout permits and daily tags

If the price increases are implemented, starting in 2020 the cost of an annual trout permit will go from $7 to $10 for anglers 16 years of age and older and from $3.50 to $5 for anglers ages 15 and younger. The cost of a daily trout tag to fish at Missouri’s four trout parks — Maramec Spring Park, Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park — will go from $3 to $4 for adults and from $2 to $3 for those 15 years of age and younger.

MDC raises trout at five fish hatcheries — Bennett Spring, Montauk, Shepherd of the Hills, Roaring River, and Maramec Spring Park — and releases about 1.7 million trout around the state for public fishing each year.

Not only have the cost of raising the trout nearly doubled since the permit prices where last set, according to the department, but the trout hatcheries have been damaged by flooding in recent years. More than $11 million has been spent in the last decade on repairs and improvements to the hatcheries.

Nonresident hunting and fishing permits

If the price increases are implemented, starting in 2020 a nonresident deering 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.  

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 days).

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

MDC is also proposing offering discounted deer and turkey permits for nonresident landowners with 75 acres or more to show appreciation for wildlife habitat work completed on their Missouri properties. 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