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Our Views: Fishing license dealer fee change hurts accessibility

November 7, 2018 GMT

Sure, the political part of the general election is over, but the government that drives those politics never stops.

Here’s an under-the-radar example that could have an effect on Arizona’s fish and wildlife, big parts of the state’s treasured outdoors. Effective Jan. 1, the state Game and Fish Department will no longer pay a commission to dealers who sell hunting and fishing licenses.

Those dealers currently receive 5 percent of the sales price, an incentive for stores to make licenses readily available and for handling the paperwork.

The elimination of the commission is based upon a change in state law. The revision allows Game and Fish to avoid an increase in license fees while keeping more money from the licenses. It also allows license dealers to charge their own fees. Put another way, it forces the dealers to add a fee and pass it along to the customer.

Game and Fish happily points out that licenses can be purchased online directly from the department for no additional fees.

This issue would seem to be a small thing and it is. Still, we wonder how this commission change works in the real world, especially Lake Havasu City. It wouldn’t be shocking to see some license vendors eventually drop the program because of price competition or negative customer comments. This wouldn’t help a visitor who is in town for a brief time and just wants to fish for the day and certainly benefits from the quick availability of a license.

Game and Fish offers grants and programs to introduce new people to hunting and fishing, recognizing that a smaller percent of the population is doing these things than in the past. The department receives no money from the state general fund and its fish and wildlife management depends heavily on license fees.

It wants to make hunting and fishing more accessible to newcomers. It also is making it less accessible by eliminating its license vendor compensation.

Those two things are very different from each other. Let’s hope the former prevails and the state watches carefully the results of this commission change to see if it promotes this accessibility.

— Today’s News-Herald