Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Virginia hunting fees

The hunting fees went up this year in Virginia. A good bit. It is an increase of over 25% for the most popular fees. Not that I have much room to complain, they are still reasonable.

Here is the breakdown of the fees I have to pay:

Hunting License - $23
Big Game Tags (deer, bear, turkey) - $23
Muzzleloader License - $18
Crossbow License - $18

Sub Total - $82

Quota Hunt Application Fees - $92.50

Total paid to VDGIF - $174.50

This is a lot less than many other states.   I just did some research and holy crap! We pay a lot for hunting here! Oh well, I still think it is worth it. It's the Quota hunts that get me. The regular license fees aren't too bad. If the Quota hunts were less expensive more people would apply and I would have a smaller chance of being selected. Although, if it gets much more expensive I might have to cut something out.

The VDGIF probably spent more on this pie chart than I spent in License fees

The real question is "what are these fees buying me?"  The VDGIF has a budget of $51 million. 38% of this is paid for by hunting and fishing fees. Another 22% is from taxes placed on sporting goods. At first glance it doesn't seem like it provides much. If you hunt on private land it seems like even less. In Virginia, some of the hunting fees go to supporting Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's). Without WMA's I would have nowhere to hunt. That in itself makes it worth it. They also pay for the law enforcement of game laws. The game laws are sometimes ridiculous, but I believe they do give us a higher quality hunting experience.

Although I do see these a lot

That being said, there is not a whole lot of game management going on on WMA's. Most are totally neglected. Others are managed in a way that makes them unfriendly to hunters. For example, I hunt on two that close perfectly good access roads to hunters. Making them walk, and drag their kill, for miles unnecessarily. I have never seen a hunter in these remote spots, but areas near the gates are crowded. If the access roads were open, hunters would be able to spread out and more would be able to hunt on the land. I also know of two areas that are only accessible by canoe. I understand that islands are only accessible by water, but the VDGIF only put in a canoe launch. A crude boat launch would only have taken a only little more money and would give lots more people access.

 The only time I have ever seen a wildlife officer he was checking for licenses. So my license dollars were being spent to pay someone to check for licenses. Kind of circular. I think poaching is common in Virginia. I have seen people blatantly violating game laws on WMA's.

If I'm reading it correctly, when you take a look at the budget most of the money is spent on bureaucratic positions and studies. Relatively little is spent on Public Land (about 2.5 million) and Law Enforcement (about 7 million). To put in perspective, more that twice as much money is being spent on vacation pay in the department than on all of the public land management. It's a sad place to be and it surely does not have the sportsman's best interest in mind.

I was hoping to discover that I get a lot for my expensive licenses and tags. However it looks like most of the money is wasted on things unnecessary or unrelated to hunters. I guess there is nothing I can do about it. Like death and taxes, licenses fees are just part of the game.
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