Senior Voice -

By Mackenzie Stewart
Senior Voice 

State plans to raise age for senior hunting licenses

"Forever" licenses will now require renewal every three years

 


Update: Last minute changes in the legislation changed these particulars. As the bill reads now, the new rules are:

- 65 year age limit

- no three-year renewal is required.

Please stay tuned, as there is confusion among sponsors and the above details may change again. Senior Voice will publish a follow-up article in July.

The state’s fiscal troubles have touched multiple aspects of state-funded programs, and the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game is no exception. For the past two years, District 6 Rep. David Talerico and Alaska Outdoor Council Executive Director Rod Arno, along with the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Territorial Sportsmen, Safari Club International Alaska Chapter and various other sportsmen groups have been a large part in the creation and submission of House Bill 137 (HB 137).

HB 137 seeks to increase fees for hunting permits by raising resident and nonresident fees for hunting, trapping and combination licenses, in addition to a slew of other minor changes including a change to the senior aspect of obtaining hunting licenses in Alaska. The bill plans to raise the senior license age requirement from 60 to 62 years of age and requires that residents renew the license every three years.

Talerico sponsored the bill after sportsmen groups and others came forward in support of the idea, reads HB 137’s April 2015 sponsor statement, written by Joshua Banks, Committee Aide for Talerico’s office.

“There is a deficiency between management needs and actual revenue from license and tag fees,” the statement reads. “Nonresident fees haven’t increased in over 17 years, and resident fees haven’t increased in over 24.”

“We really collaborated to tackle this bill,” Talerico is quoted saying in a recent article published by the Alaska House Majority regarding HB 137. “The idea of raising costs was tough to swallow, initially, but I’m glad we were able to bring this measure forward … I want to make sure that programs that have positive results and increase hunting and fishing opportunities are maintained.”

The point, adds Arno, is not to rely on Alaska general funds in light of recent events. By increasing the license fees and increasing the senior age requirement, the Fish and Game Dept. is able to use the extra revenue to continue to serve the state with the same services and quality of work despite the state’s overall financial situation.

The three year renewal of the senior license serves an important purpose, said Arno.

“We have around 20,000 of these licenses out,” he says. “However, Alaska doesn’t currently have a system in place to keep track of who actively uses their hunting licenses, so there’s no way of knowing who’s permanently leaving the state or who’s retiring or who still actually uses their license. Our wildlife restoration funding depends on who is actually hunting in the state. It’s one of the few dedicated funds in the state.”

As of May 12, HB 137 was on its way to be signed by Governor Bill Walker.

“Governor Walker assured me for two years that he would sign this bill into law,” Arno said.

“Alaska has been good to its senior hunters, and I have yet to talk to anyone objecting to the renewals,” Arno said. “In fact, Alaska Outdoor Council wanted to raise the age to 65 rather than the decided 62, because of how important the extra revenue is.”

The HB 137 sponsor statement discussed above can viewed online at http://www.housemajority.org/2015/04/18/sponsor-statement-cs-hb-137-fin-am/.

The article referencing Talerico’s interview for The Alaska House Majority can be viewed online at http://www.housemajority.org/2016/04/18/legislature-approves-bill-to-increase-revenue-for-ak-dept-of-fish-game/.

 
 

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