New Pioneer license now costs $6
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife seems to have snuck a new fee past us. They are now charging $6 a year for my Pioneer license to hunt and fish. It's always been free. What gives?
— T.T., Medford
After 70 years of being a way to recognize long-term Oregon residents, the Pioneer license will cost $6 beginning in 2016 for hunters and anglers 65 or older and who have lived in Oregon for at least 50 years. It once cost 50 cents, but it has been free the past 15 years.
The new $6 fee was part of nearly across-the-board increases for licenses and fees adopted last summer by the Oregon Legislature as part of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's budget.
Those who qualify will get not only the Pioneer license for $6 in 2016, but also the Columbia Basin Endorsement for fishing there ($9.75 savings).
The reason for the charge is that free Pioneer licenses were costing Oregon a bunch of money. It was preventing the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife from collecting about $250,000 a year in federal excise takes, says Chris Willard, ODFW's recruitment and retention coordinator.
Under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules, the agency doles out excise tax money collected on hunting and fishing equipment to states based on the number of licensed hunters and anglers, Willard says. But the rules do not let states count unpaid licenses and tags toward that money, he says.
So, for every person who got a free Pioneer license and who does not purchase any additional tags, ODFW was losing out on $14 in federal funds, Willard says.
That added up to about $250,000 per year of federal funds not coming to Oregon, Willard says.
"We simply can't continue to leave this money on the table while at the same time eliminating positions that are vital to providing and defending fishing and hunting opportunities in our state," Willard says.
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