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Conservation head seeks higher state hunting fees

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The state conservation commissioner plans to seek a 50 percent increase in the cost of a hunting license, saying it has been 18 years since the last increase.

Commissioner Barnett Lawley said he plans to ask the Legislature to raise the cost of a yearlong resident hunting license from $16 to $24.

The cost of a hunting license was last raised in 1989, and Lawley said the cost of operating Alabama’s outdoors and conservation programs have gone up a lot since then.

“It’s just like operating your home budget. Prices have gone up since 1989,” Barnett said. “The conservation department is self-funding. We don’t get money from the general fund, and license fees are our bread and butter.”

The state is currently down 19 game wardens and 12 marine police officers.

Barnett said the slots will remain unfilled and the number may increase as more people retire if the hunting license hike doesn’t occur.

A 2002 study by the U.S. Department of Interior showed hunting generated an estimated $800 million annually to the state’s economy. Alabama has about 423,000 hunters and ranks fifth in the nation in the amount of money hunters spend per year.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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