Hunters, fishers and trappers in Indiana will be providing more money for fish and wildlife research, restoration of habitat and educational programs for hunters and archers in 2022.
The money will come from the increase in Indiana hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for the 2022-23 license season, which begins April 1. The license fees have gone up for the first time in 15 years.
Anyone purchasing commercial licenses will notice increases as well, many of those for the first time since the 1980s.
The fees, used by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Law Enforcement, benefit not only the people purchasing a license but anyone who hikes, boats or enjoys a picnic at a state fish and wildlife area.
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While there are many license options, a couple of the more popular are an annual fishing license, which will cost $23, up from $17; an annual hunting license, now $20, up from $17; and a hunting and fishing combo license, costing $32 instead of $25.
The license fees are used alongside federal funds collected as an excise tax on hunting, fishing and some boating items. That money helps pay for the equipment, fuel and staff at the fish and wildlife areas throughout the Hoosier state as well as equipping state Division of Law Enforcement officials so they can provide public safety services and enforce Indiana's laws concerning natural resources.
The number of hunting and fishing licenses sold in Indiana has a direct effect on the amount of federal funds distributed to the state for use in everything from acquiring new property to lawn care at state wildlife properties.
Indiana's license fees pay for up to 25% of the projects that are then supplemented with federal grant money along with fees from waterfowl stamps and other sources. All the funding sources for Indiana can be found online at https://bit.ly/3I3Mip8.
"This money goes into a dedicated fund only used by (Indiana) Division Fish and Wildlife and Division of Law Enforcement," said Linnea Petercheff with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, talking about the federal funds Indiana receives.
Indiana fisheries management programs that maintain public freshwater lakes and stock fish in public waters receive money from the purchase of fishing equipment as well as boat fuel taxes.
Petercheff said the amount Indiana receives each year is dependent on the number of licenses sold as well as the percentage of the federal grant money designated for Indiana from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. An increase in the purchases of ammunition and firearms in the past few years has added to what Indiana has received for what Petercheff calls "the wildlife side."
Helping private landowners, too
Some of those funds help private landowners across Indiana as well.
"The work we do is not just on public land," Petercheff said. Some of the money pays for state wildlife officials to work with Hoosiers in developing and maintaining wildlife habitat on their property as part of the state's goal "to have those wildlife resources throughout the state for present and future generations to enjoy."
Ken Layton, a resident in Jackson County near Freetown, has 265 acres of woodland as well as tillable land with a creek running through the property. For years, Layton put all the tillable acres into the Conservation Reserve Program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last year, he had to re-enroll and discovered he would have to find another plan.
"The program I was in wasn't available," he explained, adding that he was surprised there was a similar program offered through the state, working with a state Department of Natural Resources biologist.
Layton is receiving advice and supervision for controlled burns and subsequent plantings of four types of prairie grasses native to the area as well as 14 broadleaf, perennial plants that attract pollinating insects including bees and butterflies. Different types of milkweed are part of the plantings and are there to attract monarch butterflies.
"I've seen dramatic changes in the landscape. A prime example of that is the change in the nature of the forests here," said Layton, who has hunted and fished across Indiana, 16 other states and three continents.
"When we moved here, we had a really good population of roughed grouse. ... The grouse population has begun to dwindle, starting in the 1990s, at an alarming rate."
Layton said he quit hunting for grouse because he didn't think there was enough of a population for them to be hunted. Then six or seven years ago, Indiana closed the season for roughed grouse.
Quail and whip-poor-wills, a nocturnal bird that sing at night, are two other bird species that Layton said he rarely hears anymore. He remembers when he and his wife, Sandy, would camp in the nearby Hoosier National Forest and be serenaded all night long by whip-poor-wills, something they sometimes enjoyed from the deck on their home as well.
"It's hard to appreciate what you don't know or understand. So many people fail to recognize our species' place in the environment. We keep making changes and we're losing species at what I consider to be an alarming rate."
So Layton is doing what he can, with funding from the state, to offer habitat and conserve the land he where he lives.
Contact Carol Kugler at email@example.com, 812-331-4359 or @ckugler on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Hunting, fishing fee rise in Indiana funds wildlife, law enforcement