Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is at a point where funding will not be adequate to sustain current operations in the near future. The agency either needs to increase revenue or decrease expenses or some combination of both.
Approximately two-thirds of the revenue used to manage Montana's ﬁsh and wildlife comes from hunting and ﬁshing license fees of which nonresidents contribute about 70 percent.The remaining one-third comes primarily from federal taxes on hunting and ﬁshing equipment. Less than one half of one percent of FWP's ﬁsh and wildlife management budget comes from the state's general fund.
No. The Legislature usually enacts a hunting and ﬁshing license fee increase about once a decade. Initially that creates more revenue than FWP spends in a year and the surplus goes in a dedicated savings account. Over time, as expenses increase due to inﬂation and new programs, FWP begins spending more annually than the revenue FWP receives. The difference is then made up by spending down the savings account. Starting in 2010 expenditures exceeded revenue and the difference has been made up by spending down the savings account. In 2017, FWP will be at the point in the natural cycle of FWP's budget model where the savings account will no longer cover expenses.
FWP established an advisory council to work on the complexity, structure and funding associated with Montana's hunting and ﬁshing licenses. In addition, the 2013 Legislature (HB 609), provided for an interim study of hunting and ﬁshing licenses by the Legislature. These are cooperative efforts.
In short, the people of Montana. Recommendations will be made to FWP by the Licensing & Funding Advisory Council that will ultimately go to the Fish & Wildlife Commission for public comment. Final budgets, license fees and structure are the responsibility of the Montana Legislature, where you will have opportunities to participate.
Montana's ﬁsh and wildlife related opportunities are important to our quality of life. Not to address the funding issue would be irresponsible and could lead to a change in many beneﬁts associated with Montana's ﬁsh and wildlife resources, including hunting, ﬁshing and wildlife viewing. Our hunting and ﬁshing heritage, and the state's continuing economic growth and reputation as a wonderful tourism destination, are also at stake.