Audit compares La.’s hunting, fishing license fees to neighboring states

This chart by the author shows a direct comparison of license fees with the other states in the audit.

Sierra Pesnell | Times Intern

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor issued a report examining the costs of Louisiana’s hunting and fishing license fees. The audit compared the prices to six neighboring states and the amount of revenue generated annually. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas were used as contrasting examples for the report. These states merge all of their hunting and fishing permits into a single, general license. Louisiana state laws and regulations have created multiple licenses for varying purposes.

Frequently purchased fishing licenses in Louisiana are for freshwater fishing and residential saltwater fishing. While residential freshwater and residential all-water fishing licenses are considerably cheaper than what the other six states charge, resident saltwater and non-resident are equal in price or more expensive than the other states.

This article published in the May 29-30, 2021, print edition

The difference between the Louisiana and regional average is $16.33 for the residential freshwater license and $1.60 for the residential all-water fishing license. The freshwater fishing and residential saltwater license have generated $6.3 million annually for wildlife and fishery resources. If it was altered to the same price of the other states, an additional $4.2 million could be earned yearly.

Residential basic game, duck and big game licenses were also lower than the other states average prices. The most commonly purchased license was for big game. During fiscal year’s 2016-2020, the basic resident and big game license created $3.7 million, annually. Louisiana law allows wildlife and fisheries to charge additional fees on a non-resident basic, non-resident big game, and hunting with a bow or primitive hunting license.

The difference between Louisiana and the regional average was $2.97 for non-resident basic game, $26.09 for non-resident big game, and $39 for bow and primitive hunting. This creates $6 million in revenue, but leaves room for a potential $1.7 million yearly, if these licenses were charged to their full extent. Lifetime license fees were significantly lower than the other states. If a similar fee modeled from the other states was adopted for the lifetime license, it could add $3.4 million yearly in additional revenue.

Youths 16 and younger aren’t required to pay a nominal fee for a license, which brings in $950,000 annually.

The absence of fees for youth licenses creates a loss in potential federal grant funds that could be used towards wildlife and fisheries. Agent commissions outside of wildlife and fisheries received an average of $10.8 million during the FY of 2016-2020. Louisiana, unlike Mississippi, doesn’t issue an additional agent and process fee in the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses.

The audit offers three main points of consideration for the Louisiana legislature in changing or increasing the fees

. The report suggests raising the price of the commonly purchased licenses, matching the average cost to the other six states. It recommends creating a nominal cost for youth licenses to add opportunity to federal grant funding, and make an additional fee on license for agent and processing services.