Thanks to last year’s across-the-board fee increases for all New York hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, many took advantage of the deadline date to purchase Lifetime licenses before the fees went up, thereby saving themselves money. The sudden rush created a temporary euphoria of “found money” for the NYSDEC and money-strapped Conservation Fund. Since these Lifetime license purchases were a one-time deal, that reality is about to set in as the upcoming years arrive.
For those not familiar with these licenses, purchasing one means the holder will no longer need to purchase an annual license for that license activity or activities – whether to fish, hunt or trap – for as long as he or she lives. In other words, the State loses that annually received revenue for years to come. With people living longer, that could translate to many millions of dollars no longer annually flowing into the DEC’s coffers for years … and this during a period when the State is already in deficit spending and strapped for money, with little relief in sight.
Further complicating the issue is, according to several polls conducted among licensed sportsmen and women, many are becoming disenchanted with hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities available today. Declining habitat quality, loss of access to private property they once had permission to, physical restrictions due to aging, and reduced economic abilities were some of the primary factors expressed in these polls.
Other factors that are impacting and will probably continue to impact the DEC’s Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources are fewer younger people taking up participation in the license-required outdoor activities, thereby replacing aging ones that cease the activities, especially those who have historically purchased annual licenses to do so. With less license and fee money coming in, the State will be forced to reduce applicable programs and personnel thereof, which will no doubt have a negative ripple effect on the overall quality of outdoor experiences, thereby possibly motivating more to quit the activities.