Georgia wildlife officials expect to soon be able to hire dozens of new rangers and make other improvements to public sites across the state, after Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Tuesday the state’s first increase in hunting and fishing fees in 25 years.
House Bill 208, sponsored by state Rep. Trey Rhodes, R-Greensboro, represents a big win for the state Department of Natural Resources, which has been working on the issue for the past two years after struggling to balance an increase in requests for better hunting and fishing experiences with stagnant license revenues. The increase comes after a state audit said the agency could raise millions of dollars annually with increased fees to bolster services across the state.
Under the bill, which goes into effect July 1, the state will raise the cost of a basic annual fishing and hunting license to $30. By comparison, South Carolina charges $22 for a comparable hunting and fishing license. Florida charges $32.50.
The bill also simplifies and reduces the total number of licenses required to hunt and fish in Georgia. It abolishes certain fee exemptions and creates a more structured fee schedule for anyone wanting to buy a lifetime license.
That includes a new $70 lifetime license fee for senior citizens.