Published: 08/19/2021 1:38:05 PM
Modified: 08/19/2021 1:38:11 PM
This author and member of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board received notification this week that the proposed reorganization of the fees for licenses and permits for hunting and fishing in Massachusetts, as proposed by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board at its last meeting, by the government procedures prescribed and approved by Massachusetts. The new fees will apply from 2022.
The process, which has been officially underway for nearly three years and follows another year of review before taking any formal action, seems, at least to me, to have taken forever. As the only board member involved when the last fee increase went into effect in 1996, I was delighted to be part of the subcommittee that began the thorough review of the agency’s finances. This review made it clear that current trends in both income and expenditure created a “perfect storm” that would inevitably eat up the surplus of the Inland Game Fund (MassWildlife’s Primary Fund) and create a deficit in the near future. A look at the other states and their handling of the same circumstances was also part of the financial audit, which was carried out by MassWildlife Director Dr. Mark Tisa was managed competently and with great skill and energy.
The financing of species protection is traditionally based on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. This is the world’s most successful system of guidelines and laws for the restoration and protection of fish and wildlife and their habitats through sound science and active management.
In the United States and Canada, the model is based on seven interdependent principles:
1. Wildlife resources are preserved and held in trust for all citizens.
2. The trade in dead wildlife is eliminated.
3. The allocation of wild animals is based on the rule of law.
4. Wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate, not frivolous purpose.
5. Wildlife is an international resource.
6. According to the law, everyone has the same opportunities to take part in hunting and fishing.
7. Scientific management is the best way to protect species.
Historically, the model has been funded by contributions from athletes through license sales and by federal laws such as the Pittman / Robertson Act (an excise tax on guns, ammunition, archery, and similar outdoor items paid for by manufacturers) and the wallop. supports / Breaux or Dingell / Johnson Act (an excise duty on fishing tackle, boats, and similar items). Both provide revenue to states based on license sales and other factors and can only be used for conservation purposes.
The Baker / Polito administration should be credited with working on a compromise that would allow the fees to be incrementally increased over five years. The original proposal, which was calculated to provide the revenue necessary to mitigate the looming deficit and a 10-year window of funding security, was viewed as overstated by many of those involved in the public review of the proposed fee increases . The introduction mitigates this “sticker shock” by aligning fees with those of other New England states. It should be noted that almost every federal state is confronted with the same crisis for the same reasons. License sales decline as the hunting population ages without being replaced by younger hunters, and costs inevitably rise due to factors all too familiar to all of us.
A critical component of the crisis was the fact that a large and increasing number of people were able to qualify for free licenses by the time they turned 70. This was an unfunded legal mandate that cost MassWildlife over $ 1.5 million a year and was going to grow. Sen. Anne Gobi, our local Senator and Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, led the successful effort to get MassWildlife refunded for these free licenses and that is a huge benefit going forward.
All in all, the approval ensures that MassWildlife continues to provide the high level of service to athletes and all Massachusetts residents who have come to appreciate the Commonwealth’s fish and wildlife resources.
August 26th: Signing of the trail license agreement
You are cordially invited to join the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), MassWildlife, the North Quabbin Trails Association, and other Tully Trail Conservation Partners on Thursday, August 26th at 10 a.m. to sign a trail licensing agreement between MassWildlife and the North Quabbin Trails Association (NQTA). The event will take place in the parking lot of the Tully Mountain Wildlife Management Area on Mountain Road in Orange. The DFG and MassWildlife will host a lecture program with NQTA and offer a short walk to see the trail work and habitat management activities on the Tully Trail.