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  • Roy Griffith

The Price of an Elk..

If you are like me when you pull into a gas station on a trip out of state as you fill up your tank you think, ‘wow do we get gouged for gas in California’ paying on average 35 cents more for a gallon of gas here. Now imagine being a California resident elk hunter and paying $425 dollars more for an elk tag than a resident of Montana pays! Yes, that is correct IF you are ever so fortunate to be drawn for an elk tag in California you will pay over $400 more than most western states for that privilege. In fact, you can go to Wyoming as a NON-RESIDENT and purchase a tag for about $270! It’s no wonder why California is losing resident hunters at an average of 5,000 a year.

California has seen this steady decline of hunters over the past 20 years. Hunters are an essential component of wildlife management and hunting generates dollars vital to conservation efforts throughout California. It is critical efforts be taken to recruit new hunters in California and retain those we already have. In 2016 California residents paid $445 for a resident elk tag and an additional $47 for a resident hunting license. That adds up to over $500 for a potential first time elk hunter. This has proven to be a barrier for potential first time elk hunters! Let’s compare this to our neighboring western states; Wyoming $52, Arizona $148, Oregon $46, Nevada $31, Idaho $31, Utah $50 and Montana $20.

CRPA feels enough is enough and thankfully so does Assembly member Jim Frazier a true friend of the Hunter Conservational who sponsored Assembly Bill 521. This bills seeks to base California’s resident elk tag on an average of the seven western states with elk hunts. California has approximately 350 resident elk tags available. Based on 2015 data 350 tags sold at $445 a tag resulted in $155,750 revenue generated to CADFW Big Game Management Fund (BGMA). Additionally, 36,068 hunters paid $8.13 each for the chance to hunt elk generating an additional $293,232.84 in app fees for the department each year.

This proposal, to reduce a resident elk tag to $67.00 (western state average a tag) equates to $23,450 revenue generated to BGMA. The tag fee decrease only results in a $132,300 annual reduction to a fund that since created in 2011 has generated a current reserve balance of $9,457,472, and averages an increase of 1.5-2 million a year going into a reserve CADFW has not been able to spend. When a ‘fee’ results in an ever-growing surplus on this scale it is no longer a fee and in reality, is an impropriate tax.

Please contact your representatives and urge them to vote yes on AB 521.

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