Montana License Costs Increase


Published: December - 2001

Well, Montana has done it again, Senior Western Correspondent Lance Stapleton tell us. He writes: "As early as 1995, I predicted that the cost of the Outfitter-Sponsored licenses in Montana would skyrocket. That was when Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Commission, under direction from the Montana Legislature, adopted new rules for the issuance of Outfitter Sponsored licenses that more or less allowed the state to charge any price the market will bear. Specifically, the rules call for setting a market-based fee that will maintain an average sale of 5,500 licenses per year over a five-year period.

"At any rate, my prediction of skyrocketing prices has indeed come true, as witness the double-digit increases for Montana's 2002 Outfitter Sponsored licenses and general nonresident licenses (see below). These hikes are infuriating to hunters, of course, but they are also having a very bad effect on Montana's outfitters. What's at stake here, in my view, is the viability of Montana's outfitting industry, as these license increases are slowly strangling outfitters. They will eventually put them out of business. And here's why....

"There is a limit to what hunters are willing to spend on any hunt, and most of us think in terms of the total cost of the experience, including travel, tips, licenses and outfitter fees. What's happening is, outfitters are being forced by increasing license costs to artificially lower, or limit, the prices for their services. As we approach the limits of what the traveling hunter is willing to pay, the cost that remains flexible or, to use an economics term, elastic, is the outfitter fee. Most of us would agree that outfitters deserve the lion's share of the total cost of a hunt, since they are the ones who have made the capital investments and certainly do the work. But under Montana's system, the state is getting a bigger and bigger chunk of the pie each year.

"Outfitters are necessary for most of us to enjoy hunting out of state, as few of us have the ability, or inclination, to haul a camp to Montana,........(continued)

 
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