On April 21, 2021, Representative Tony Bacala introduced House Bill 691 in order to implement a hunting and fishing license restructure. The restructure of licenses and fees would simplify the purchasing process by consolidating multiple existing licenses into fewer licenses, and provide an increase in revenue for the Department. A license restructure was last implemented in the year 2000. Now, more than 20 years later, LDWF needs an increase in funding in order to support Louisiana’s hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists.
LDWF largely generates funding from two sources. One source being the sale of commercial and recreational licenses, and the second being royalties from oil and gas production on WMAs. While these royalties help fund LDWF, market variability on the price of oil creates an unstable funding source. The decline of oil prices in recent years means that there is less funding for the Department. In order to securely source funding, LDWF needs to restructure licenses and fees.
The Department takes on multiple roles that benefit not only Louisiana’s wildlife, but also its citizens. Whether it is improving habitat for threatened and endangered species, maintaining roads within your favorite WMA, or combating invasive species across the landscape, these are all functions that are funded by licenses and fees. The operational costs of these functions have significantly increased since 2000 due to inflation, whereas the licenses and fees have remained the same. The budget deficit has created a shortage of workers on WMAs, and there are many unfilled positions in their law enforcement division.
While the proposed changes will increase some of the costs that Louisiana hunters and anglers will have to pay for recreational and commercial activities, these costs are very similar to the rates in other Gulf Coast states. Take a look at the proposed changes here. The amount of increase in licenses and fees are insignificant when compared to filling up a vehicle or putting ice in a cooler. The increase in funding received by LDWF will aid the department by providing adequate funding to protect and enhance Louisiana’s paradise. For that reason, the Southeast Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers supports House Bill 691.