The much needed bill to increase fishing and hunting fees by more than 32% was bravely passed by the House on a 35-25 vote. The House is to be commended for their brave stance on this bill, which was not favored by most sportsmen and sportswomen in Oregon.
A 32% increase seems draconian to some, however, this bill was needed for several reasons, the most important of which are listed below:
1. The money will allow the State Fish and Wildlife Department to provide more fish to be caught and more animals to be hunted. These new funds will greatly expand the programs already in place to provide ample wildlife for the sportspeople to hunt down and kill. Removing invasive species, stocking lakes and streams, conserving wildlife habitat, implementing recovery plans for endangered animals, and other such programs will now have increased funds to continue this vital work.
2. These new funds will enable the Fish and Wildlife Department to hire more personnel, such as wildlife veterinarians, project engineers, programmer analysts, fish screening technicians, asset system accountants, experimental biology aides, fish habitat biologists, and many, many more. Without personnel in these vital positions there would be far, far fewer fish to be caught and wildlife to be killed.
3. The budget for the Oregon State Fish and Wildlife Department for 2009 — 2011 is only 263 million dollars. There are only 1,350 positions in the Department. The strains are showing statewide. This is simply not be enough. Oregon is the 10th largest state in the union, which many do not realize, and that’s a lot of ground to cover. More funding is necessary and now more will be available.
4. Feral swine is becoming a big problem in Oregon. City-dwellers may not know this, but informed eco-citizens do, and it must be contained. It is not inexpensive to hunt down and kill these destructive pests, although I am told the bacon is quite good.
5. Other areas where Fish and Wildlife is involved and that need increased funding include, but are not limited to, capital improvement, fishing enhancements, brochures, classes, ODOT liaison work, enforcement, conservation strategy implementation, wave energy management, marine reserve site evaluation, web and network upgrades, road and trail access, hunter and fisher education, and many, many more.
So, when you dig into your wallet for that fishing or hunting license and you get a mild case of sticker shock at the 32% increase just remember that it was needed and will be put to good use for your benefit.