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October 03, 1997
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

Commission streamlines hunting, fishing licensing

ELLENSBURG -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today streamlined the state's hunting and fishing licensing system.

The new system is aimed at making the licensing process less complicated for recreational users and license dealers.

"We have one of the most antiquated, cumbersome licensing systems in any of the 50 states." said Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Bern Shanks. "This change is desperately needed for customer service."

"This long-needed change should eliminate much of the frustration people have felt. It should get more people into the field to take advantage of Washington's wonderful fish and wildlife resources," said Lisa Pelly, the commission's chair.

Fishing license revisions will incorporate existing warmwater and Puget Sound salmon enhancement fees into licenses and eliminate licensing by fish species. Under the new system, resident adults and seniors will pay $20 for freshwater licenses; $17 for saltwater licenses; $7 for shellfish licenses, or $34 for a combined license including shellfish. Juveniles will be charged $5 for a combination fishing license, with a separate $3 charge for a shellfish license. Also offered is an optional $25 Family Fishing Weekend license for up to six fishers, including one or two adults as well as children. Hunting license revisions replace single-species tags with a big game/small game licensing system along with options for hunting single species. Resident adults and seniors will pay $20 to $65 for big game hunting, depending on the targeted species. The $65 big-game combination license will allow hunting for deer, elk, cougar and bear.

A $30 small-game combination license allows hunting for upland birds, eastern Washington pheasant and turkey, as well as falconry. A combined $80 license allows both big- game and small-game hunting. Deer-only or elk-only tags will cost $35. Juvenile license fees are half those charged resident adults.

The new license structure will take effect in 1999. The commission action adopting the license revisions follows a series of 23 public meetings, nine dealer meetings and collection of 2,500 public survey responses to gather suggestions on simplifying the licensing system.

The license simplification measures were directed by the Legislature. Part of the streamlining package still under development is an automated licensing system which would replace paper licenses with permanent cards.