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Wisconsin Assembly approves increases in out-of-state outdoor license fees to help close deficit

WCCO digital headlines: Afternoon of Feb. 22, 2024
WCCO digital headlines: Afternoon of Feb. 22, 2024 01:51

The Wisconsin Assembly approved a bill Thursday that would raise a variety of hunting, fishing and trapping license fees for out-of-state residents to help shrink a deficit in the state's fish and wildlife account.

The Assembly passed the legislation 97-0, sending it to the Senate.

The state Department of Natural Resources estimated the changes would generate about $780,000 more annually for the account, which funds a variety of projects ranging from fish stocking to wildlife surveys.

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The account is built largely on license fee revenue. But years of waning interest in outdoor activities has led to a projected $16 million deficit in the account heading into the state's next two-year budget period.

Republican lawmakers raised nonresident deer hunting licenses by $40 to $200, nonresident hunting and fishing license fees by $5 and nonresident combination licenses by $20 in the state budget that Gov. Tony Evers signed in the summer.

The license increases in the bill range from a $1 increase on a nonresident two-day sports fishing license to a $5,750 increase for a nonresident commercial fishing license. The Assembly on Tuesday approved a bill that would raise nonresident bow and crossbow hunting license fees by $35 to $200, sending the measure to the Senate. The broader bill approved Thursday includes that increase as well.

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