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Bill Calls for Fee to Watch Widlife in Alaska

When the orcas put on a show slaughtering seals and salmon, it might cost you. And when a moose goes strutting down a wilderness path, get ready to shell out a few bucks. This is all hypothetical, of course, but if a controversial bill in the Alaska senate passes, wildlife watchers will be required to buy a permit much like hunters have licenses. The idea is to alleviate some of the budget belt-tightening that game agencies feel.

The wildlife conservation tag, as it's known now, could generate as much as $4.6 million for the state annually. That's a sizable shot in the arm for an agency that has to manage the largest land mass in the United States. Tour operators want nothing to do with the licenses, though. Many have spoken out against the proposal, claiming the logistical nightmare that would ensue.

Most fish and game agencies watch their bank accounts like a college student. There's not much money to go around, and creative fundraising sounds like the way to go. In Maine, for instance, the IFW is responsible for all wilderness rescues, which includes hikers on the Appalachian Trail. But the IFW budget comes almost entirely from hunting and fishing license sales. The campers aren't paying a dime into the coiffures, but still benefit from the services. What do you think? Is it time for granolas to pay their share?

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Tom Smith

I absolutely believe it is high time for the tree huggers to pitch in. The hunting and fishing crowd has carried the burden for too long and lately it seems our self imposed tax dollars are working for eveyone except us. I live in Michigan where we are blessed with hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, however more and more of these lands are being set aside as non-hunting areas for wildlife viewing and the such. I have nothing against the nature lovers I, to a degree, am one of them but they seem to demand more and more of our hunting land for their non-hunting purposes. Just my experiences here not any real agenda.

Kris Westhoff

This year here in Colorado the DNR/DOW did a very similar thing. If you want to access a state wildlife you have to have a valid license (hunting or fishing) and one or two habitat stamps. They charge you for the habitat stamp on your first two licenses. If you don't purchase a license you are required to purchase two habitat stamps to access SWA's. I have mixed feelings about this thus far being an avid hunter/fisherman. I've been supporting these areas for year thru my license purchases. Why should I pay "extra"? I know it's only ten bucks, but at least make those who do not hunt or fish pay more for these habitat stamps. Maybe thay can share in the upkeep of our SWA's a little more than they have in the past.

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