At its Dec. 19 meeting in Jefferson City, the Missouri Conservation Commission discussed changes to the structure and pricing of hunting, fishing and trapping permits as proposed by the Commission in September.
Public input, according to the Commission, has again proven to be an essential component of regulation development. Following the recent public comment period on proposed permit changes, several recommendations included in the original package have been sidelined or modified.
"We have a rich history of being a citizen-led and citizen-driven Conservation Department," said Commission Chairman Chip McGeehan. "Citizen involvement and trust are essential parts of conservation success in our state, and we thank the many Missourians who have shared their opinions on the proposed permit changes. We will continue to seek points of view from all of our stakeholders, listen, and respond in ways that best protect Missouri's resources and serve all Missourians."
The proposed 80-acre resident landowner requirement was stopped. After taking into consideration the severe economic downturn affecting Missouri's citizens, and in response to public comments, the Commission decided to end advancement of the proposed recommendations to, (1) increase the resident landowner acreage requirement for no-cost deer and turkey permits from 5 to 80 acres, and (2) eliminate lessee privileges.
Conservation Department Director John Hoskins explained, "A growing number of Missourians are small-acreage landowners and many embrace wildlife management as a primary purpose for some if not all of their land. We support them, and all landowners, and recognize the many habitat benefits that result from landowner efforts. Private landowners have always been, and continue to be, a critical component of Missouri's successful wildlife management program. We will continue to seek input from all landowners regarding any additional changes that may affect them and will proactively seek landowner input prior to any future proposals regarding landowner permits."
In addition, the Commission stopped proposed resident permit price increases.
"Our economy is in much worse shape than it was when we first proposed the price increases," explained Hoskins. "We are sensitive to the plight of our fellow Missourians during this unprecedented recession. The higher cost of living, increasing unemployment and general economic uncertainty are affecting us all."
The Commission also voiced support for ending advancement of the recommendation to establish a new senior "forever" permit. With this action, people over 65 years will continue to be able to hunt small game and fish for free in Missouri, with no permit required. As originally crafted, the "forever" permit seemed to confuse many citizens. The Department received considerable public comment on this particular issue.
The Commission continued to support the proposed recommendations regarding gathering basic essential landowner information consistent with past practices, but approved the delay of implementation from Fall 2009 to Spring 2010.
Through the Department's existing point-of-sale permit system, landowners receiving no-cost deer and turkey permits provide their name, address, county and acreage of their land. The change envisioned would be consistent with a past requirement that simply adds collection of the legal description of their land, i.e.: township, section and range.
Following public comments, the Commission expressed continued support for the recommendation to establish consistent hunter education and age requirements for all mentors. This recommendation simply establishes consistent requirements for all Missouri citizens.
In addition, the Commission continued to support the establishment of a standard minimum legal age of six years for obtaining deer and turkey permits, including for no-cost landowner permits.
The Commission remains focused on the priority of growing hunter and angler numbers in Missouri.
As a result, the Commission voiced support to continue forward with the recommendation to simplify youth permits and slash the cost of deer, turkey and trout permits purchased for youth by 50 percent.