Augusta, Maine - At their public meeting yesterday, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council voted to support a proposed amendment to LD 1929 An Act to stabilize the funding of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The amendment would avoid a future shortfall in the Department's budget by reimbursing the Department for a portion of the services it provides to people who don't hunt or fish; increasing moose, bear and turkey permit fees, reducing the cost of combination hunting and fishing licenses and increasing the cost of individual hunting and fishing licenses by $ 3.00.
In a letter to the House and Senate Chairs of the Legislative committee, Advisory Council Chairman Harold Brown of Bangor commended Governor King for his recognition of the public services provided by the Department and pledge to reimburse the Department in the amount of $3.9 million in each year of the next biennium; and urged the committee to support an increase in hunting permit fees and to the extent necessary a general hunting and fishing license fee increase, to meet the projected $1.9 million shortage in the biennial budget for fiscal years 2004 and 2005; support an additional increase in fees to fund enhanced fish and game programs including expanded fisheries management, increased fish hatchery production, improved furbearer management, expanded public access and landowner relations as well as an annual moose census; and support an increase in registration fees for ATV's and creation of an effective law enforcement, operator education, and trail program.
The Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is currently working on the bill and asked for the Council's position on the matter. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council is a ten member public body composed of citizens appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. Their role as defined by state law is to provide advice to the Commissioner regarding fish and wildlife matters and to decide if rules should be promulgated by the Commissioner.-David J. Basley, Regional Fishery Biologist
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