Mississippi doubles non-resident lifetime hunting, fishing license fees, may raise more fees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2000

AP and staff reports

Vidalia, La., resident Eddie Roberts won’t mind paying extra for his fishing license if it helps improve the places where he fishes.

&uot;If the money goes where it’s supposed to go I don’t mind a bit,&uot; said Roberts, who works at Bryan’s Marine in Vidalia and fishes year-round. &uot;I think we’ve been getting off cheap as it is.&uot;

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On Tuesday, the Mississippi Commission of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks doubled the cost of a nonresident lifetime hunting and fishing license and will likely raise all fees charged to out-of-state outdoorsmen.

The decision increases the cost of a lifetime license from $3,000 to $6,000.

The increase comes on the heels of Louisiana raising the cost of out-of-state hunting and fishing licenses last month, but James Walker, spokesman for the Mississippi wildlife agency, said this was not done as retaliation.

Still, Roberts said he knew the increase was coming. &uot;That’s what everybody’s going to think,&uot; said Roberts, who assumed on hearing the news that it was in retaliation for Louisiana’s raising its rates. &uot;I knew it was coming, without a doubt.&uot;

Roberts said wildlife and fisheries offices in both states are &uot;overworked, underpaid and undermanned&uot; and need the boost from higher rates.

Mississippi’s new rate will go into effect in 60 days.

Walker said the commission has given the wildlife agency 30 days to examine all other nonresident license fees and make recommendations. It will probably lead to a cost increase, he said. ”I can say with confidence that I do not believe that this commission would raise rates to the level of Louisiana,” he said. ”We feel like that’s going to drive off business.”

The Louisiana Legislature passed a bill raising the rates charged to nonresident outdoorsmen.

Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks – responding to the legislative action – increased its nonresident fishing license from $67 to $110, plus a local handling fee. A three-day trip license to saltwater fish went from $27 to $70. An all-game one-year hunting license for nonresidents was increased to $425, more than doubling the previous price of $200.

Louisiana officials said the increases were needed to offset the state’s budget deficit.

Jim Jenkins, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the rate increases were higher than his organization would have preferred.

Jenkins also said despite what officials say, he believes the rate increases aimed at nonresidents in Mississippi were in response to Louisiana’s increases.

”I’m pretty sure that is what they are doing,” he said. ”I have been listening to threats from people in Mississippi since we passed our increases.”

Walker said the higher license fees in Louisiana affects Mississippi fishermen much more than Mississippi hunters.

Mississippi coast fishermen and shrimpers were angry over the Louisiana action, a reminder of a fees war that erupted two years ago.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources voted last week to increase saltwater nonresident license for Louisiana fishermen to $110.

Walker said there has been a run on lifetime nonresident licenses sold in Mississippi, presumably because hunters were aware that a rate hike was imminent.

In the past two weeks, 40 lifetime licenses were sold in Mississippi, all but one to a Louisiana resident.

Prior to the recent surge, Walker said only 62 lifetime licenses had been sold since the state began offering them eight and a half years ago.