Take Action to lower license fees for non-resident students

The Pennsylvania Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is tracking a lot of bills in Harrisburg this session, but one that has our particular attention is Senate Bill 344, authored by Senator Chris Gebhard of District 48 serving Lebanon County and parts of Berks and Lancaster.

If passed into law, SB344 will make Pennsylvania one of about 30 states to allow non-resident college and university students to purchase hunting licenses at resident prices.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has offered resident license fees to non-resident, full-time students since 2021.

The preservation of our outdoor traditions – and in large part, funding for conservation – relies on keeping as many people, particularly young people, active in hunting as possible. Creating student-sportsmen of college age or keeping hunters engaged while here at school from their home state is one way to do so.

Under today’s rules, a non-resident student in Pennsylvania would have to pay $101.97 annually to go deer hunting in Penn’s Woods. Given the cost of higher education and living expenses, that could be too much for many students. If knocking that cost down to what a resident pays helps even a few students take up hunting or stay engaged as a hunter while going to school in PA, we think that is a worthwhile investment.

As state agencies and NGOs in the hunting world have learned in the last few years of working to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters, it costs less to keep a hunter than it does to create a new one. Which is likely part of the reason the PA Game Commission is supportive of SB344.

And while everyone likes a discount, we won’t just be saving students a few dollars. If we open the door for them to enjoy hunting opportunities while they are here in Pennsylvania, it is possible those positive experiences afield will keep them coming back for years to come.  Each student will decide, upon graduation, to stay in Pennsylvania or go back home or somewhere else. A positive hunting experience while here in PA may be the determining factor in that decision.

We thank Senator Gebhard for authoring SB344 and will be working to make sure the measure becomes law.

Click Here to Take Action

About Pennsylvania BHA

The Pennsylvania Chapter of BHA represents a diverse and enthusiastic group of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen who seek to protect and improve wild places in the Keystone State and beyond.

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