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Multiyear hunting, fishing licenses proposed

Oregonians will be able to buy their hunting and fishing licenses for more than one year, and possibly at a discount, under a bill now sliding smoothly through the Oregon Legislature.

House Bill 2252 would give the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife the authority to sell hunting and angling licenses for more than the current one-year period limited by law.

The bill breezed through the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and on Monday was placed among a group of bills recommended for passing.

The bill would allow the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to determine what the cost of multiyear licenses would be, but language in the bill would allow the commission to set those at a discount.

Currently, a one-year hunting license costs $29.50 and a one-year angling license costs $33. A combination hunter/angler license can be bought for $58.

Ron Anglin, the ODFW's Wildlife Division administrator, said the proposed provision could lead hunters and anglers to buy a license good for up to five years at a discount of perhaps 10 percent of what five one-year licenses would cost.

Ten states currently offer multiyear licenses, with many states offering a 10 or even 15 percent discount, said Curt Melcher, the ODFW's deputy director. Others, such as Idaho, offer multiyear licenses but no discounts, Melcher said.

Those hunters and anglers who currently buy the agency's Sports Pac and its full suite of licenses and tags get about a 10 percent discount, Melcher said. ODFW leaders would plan on talking with their regular constituents about any discounts should the bill become law, he said.

"It's just a way to give a little break to people who know they will be hunting or fishing," Anglin said. "If folks want to make that kind of investment up front, they'd have some certainty on cost."

Buying a multi-year license also would insulate hunters and anglers from any future license rate increases during the lifetime of their license.

The agency last sought a fee increase in 2009. At the time, ODFW leaders projected that the increase would last at least six years, "and we're on track for that," Melcher said.

The agency has no fee increase request before the Legislature, and none is currently planned for the 2015-17 biennium, Melcher said.

The bill also provides some extra opportunities for uniformed servicemen and servicewomen looking to hunt or fish in Oregon.

If passed, the new law would give active-duty military members the chance to buy hunting and fishing licenses and most tags at resident costs. It excludes tags offered in controlled hunts, which are area-specific with a set number of tags meted out via a lottery.

"It's an acknowledgement of the sacrifices military folks are making," Anglin said.

Current law allows any serviceman or servicewoman to qualify for resident license and tag prices if they are stationed in Oregon or are stationed out of state but keep an Oregon residence.

The new provision excludes controlled-hunt tags because state law sets a cap on the numbers of these tags going to nonresidents. There is no cap on nonresident tag sales in general-season hunts that have no set numbers of tags for sale.

The bill was filed on behalf of Gov. John Kitzhaber as part of the ODFW's 2013-15 budget request.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.