Utah board approves hunting, fishing fees to set up Legislature vote

A photo of mule deer in Utah taken on Nov. 12, 2020. The Utah Wildlife Board approved a plan to increase the cost of a general season deer permit as early as 2023.

A photo of mule deer in Utah taken on Nov. 12, 2020. The Utah Wildlife Board approved a plan to increase the cost of a general season deer permit as early as 2023. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — The cost of hunting and fishing in Utah could be going up next year for residents and nonresidents alike.

The Utah Wildlife Board on Thursday approved a plan to increase the cost of permit fees, though the Utah Legislature has the final say on whether there is an increase. Changes approved by the wildlife board include:

  • General season deer and elk hunting, 365-day fishing and hunting and combination licenses will increase by $6. Fishing permits will be $40, general season deer permits would be $46 and elk permits $56, once the plan is approved. A fishing and hunting combination license would jump from $38 to $44, a 16% increase. There would be a $1 discount for all multi-year and extended permits.
  • Nonresident hunting licenses would be increased to $120 and nonresident combination licenses would be increased to $150.
  • Swan and sandhill crane permits would be aligned, in price, with a turkey permit. Turkey hunt permits are set to increase from $35 to $40, or 14% more. Swan and sandhill crane permits would also be $40.
  • Most other license and permit fees fall within the 10% to 12% increase threshold.
  • Hunting, fishing and combination licenses for youth and disabled veterans would not increase in price. Youth hunting permits for general-season deer and elk permits would stay at $40 and $50, respectively.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources first proposed the measure last month, asserting that the fee increases are needed to keep up with the rising costs of operation, which are fueled by record inflation following the pandemic. The proposal is the largest fee increase in nearly a decade, according to Kenny Johnson, the division's administrative services chief.

"We've seen all of those steadily increase over (the last few months), as well," he said last month. "So, we're proposing a modest fee increase to help us address our needs now; and what we anticipate for several years into the future. ... We believe our license structure and fees are fair and help balance participation costs from the public with healthy fish and wildlife populations on the ground."

The Utah Legislature's Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee is set to review the proposed increase before it heads to the Legislature for a final vote. The Legislature has the final say because it oversees the division's funding and allocation, and changes to code, which a fee increase would impact, said Faith Heaton Jolley, spokeswoman at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

The final vote is expected to be held during the 2023 legislative session before the increase is passed down to hunters and anglers, likely beginning at the start of the 2024 fiscal year on July 1, 2023.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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