Fishing and Hunting Licenses – Where does the money go?
The Bureau of Natural Resources (BNR), which encompasses DEEP’s fish and wildlife programs, receives more than $6 MM a year in federal aid funds from the Sport Fish Restoration Act and the Wildlife Restoration Act. This money accounts for close to HALF of BNR’s revenue. In order to be eligible for these funds, there must be assent language in state statute that directs all funds collected from fishing and hunting permits, fees and stamps to fisheries and wildlife programs. Why does this matter? These federal laws are an assurance that the money collected from our fishing and hunting licenses will go back to fish and wildlife programs. Here are the excerpts from both acts that refer to this assent language:
PITTMAN-ROBERTSON WILDLIFE RESTORATION ACT
(16 U.S.C. 669-669i; 50 Stat. 917)
“no money apportioned under this Act to any State shall be expended therein until its legislature, or other State agency authorized by the State constitution to make laws governing the conservation of wildlife, shall have assented to the provision of this Act and shall have passed laws for the conservation of wildlife which shall include a prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by hunters for any other purpose than the administration of said State fish and game department.”
DINGELL-JOHNSON SPORT FISH RESTORATION ACT
(16 U.S.C. 777-777k, 64 Stat. 430)
“No money apportioned under this Act to any State, except as hereinafter provided, shall be expended therein until its legislature, or other State agency authorized by the State constitution to make laws governing the conservation of fish, shall have assented to the provisions of this Act and shall have passed laws for the conservation of fish, which shall include a prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by fishermen for any other purpose than the administration of said State fish and game department.”
Therefore, in order for the State of Connecticut to receive funds from the Federal Aid associated with these two acts, Connecticut state statute includes the following assent language:
Chapter 490 Sec. 26-15a. Appropriations to Bureau of Natural Resources.
Federal aid. Annual report.
The provisions of section 26-15 shall remain in full force and effect, and there shall be appropriated to the Bureau of Natural Resources within the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for each fiscal year a sum not less than the total estimated receipts from fishing and hunting and trapping licenses, permits, tags and stamps, other than the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp described in section 26-27b, for such year issued under the provisions of this chapter and income earned from license fees, including interest and dividends, income earned from assets acquired with license, permit, tag and stamp fees and the sale or leasing of real or personal property.
Could this law be changed? Perhaps. Legislators could try but the consequences of doing so would be very financially undesirable and would be met with such incredible resistance that any attempt would have slim chance of success.
Appropriation of funds contributed by anglers and hunters to anywhere other than the Bureau of Natural Resources would result in a $6 million dollar loss of revenue to the State of Connecticut. How can you help? Buy a license! Purchase of a license makes sure you are counted as an angler or hunter in the state of Connecticut. No only will this money go back to fish and wildlife programs, but your participation in hunting and fishing activities will provide evidence that we deserve our share of federal aid money!
Thank you to Alicea Charamut for putting this together.