Tough time finding the extra money to buy your license and tags? Well hold on, because costs are going up and some permits are skyrocketing! Idaho has been a fair priced state for hunting licenses for decades, and most of us blue collar hunters really appreciate the below average fees associated with hunting the Gem state. After Montana jumped through the roof nearly a decade ago, it was a breath of fresh air to have Idaho “hold on for the little guy”, or so it seemed until now. Legislative sessions are coming to an end in Idaho and as the dust settles, one of the major changes we see for IDFG is the new nonresident license and tag fee structure. Idaho hasn’t bumped prices for roughly 10 years, and when they last bumped them it wasn’t anything to write home about. That doesn’t appear to be true this time around. Although costs are not as high as they could be, prices for the more prominent tags jumped up substantially. If you ask most residents and many other sportsmen around the West they will tell you that this move is way overdue and many are welcoming the change. However, nonresident fees make up for 57% of IDFG’s budget in 2019. Yet, new structured nonresident caps are well underway as per the commission’s newly adopted plan to “…authorize the Commission to restrict nonresident participation by proclamation in general season big game hunts to reduce the hunter congestion.” IDFG was expecting a 5-9 million dollar loss due to lack of NR funds. Thus, HB 330 was presented and passed “…just to stay even” according to Rep. Clark Kauffman who voted in favor of the bill. Or as the statement of purpose for HB 330 says: “The increased fees in the bill are necessary to compensate for the reduced levels of nonresident participation, allowing the Commission to maintain a balanced budget that can support existing services. The bill, in combination with the Commission’s desired reduction in nonresident tags, will improve management of nonresident participation and maintain quality, diverse general hunt opportunities for residents.”
In an attempt to simplify the busyness of this, here is the shorter version: Resident hunters have been overrun in many units and are making this known to IDFG. Thus, the Commission has instituted a new NR cap that no longer is a statewide blanket/allocation and will now be managed unit by unit or as IDFG sees fit to best manage hunter pressure with the goal of protecting resident hunter’s experience. This new unit by unit NR cap will reduce funds as many nonresidents will either not be able to obtain their tags or may choose not to hunt based on the changes. Thus, a prediction of loss of funds and a price hike to help pick up the tab! Clear as mud?
So what is the nonresident take-away? Let’s hear your thoughts! I have hunted Idaho for most of my life, and I am a nonresident hunter there. I totally understand the concerns with hunter pressure and have experienced them firsthand. Also, I can see a benefit to a more evenly distributed nonresident tag allocation. However, raising costs of Jr. mentored tags more than 600% or boosting my archery or muzzleloader permit up to $80 is a bit much if you ask me! For a full list of the new pricing structure click here. These changes will NOT impact your 2020 hunts, as they do not go into effect until Dec. 1st 2020. Is this a time we decide to put our money towards another hunting adventure? Idaho has a lot to offer, but with these changes they are nearly status quo with Montana and Wyoming, this creates a split in the road for many hunters and until we see how IDFG changes the unit by unit NR quotas a big question mark stands in the gap for 2021 hunts.