The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is proposing a 100 percent increase for residents to buy a hunting license and only an 18 percent increase for nonresidents. Again, we see our state government shaft its residents while protecting the almighty tourist and nonresident. If Fish and Game really needs more money, there are many options starting with substantially raising nonresident tags and licenses. Nonresident sheep hunters pay guides well over $10,000 to kill one sheep and yet we only charge $425 for a tag. That's ridiculous - as is the neglect this species has received from this department. Raising fines for violators, raising fees on commercial fishing and hunting, charging tourists hefty wildlife viewing fees, are just some other options. What's the worst that could happen if outsiders balk at higher fees? Less competition for resources and more fish and game for residents - a win-win situation.
Asking residents to pay higher license fees in places like McGrath, when their game has been so mismanaged over the years, is as ludicrous as asking them to help pay for the shooting range in Fairbanks. Why should we pay more when this state continues to give away our fish and game to non-residents with little regard for the people who depend on them to feed their families? Where is the management of nonresident hunters and most importantly, their guides? One hunting guide recently took 10 rams out of one drainage within one year, and he's not even a resident. That's not management - and that's not sustainable. It's as egregious as letting commercial fishermen from Washington harvest tens of thousands of Copper River kings while "allowing" residents only one.
Hunting in Alaska is not a "bargain." It is a constitutional right and for many a necessity, and the mindset of Fish and Game needs to change if it does not realize that. It needs to change to one of service, first and foremost to its residents. If Fish and Game wants to compare license costs to other western states, it should first look at the prices charged to nonresidents in those states and adjust ours accordingly. Wyoming's $1,900 non-resident sheep tag would be a good beginning. Contact your legislators and tell them "no" on the proposed hike.
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