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Maryland Senate passes revised hunting license bill

March 15, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - A bill that would increase hunting license fees and simplify the license structure passed the Maryland Senate on Thursday.

Under the proposal, Maryland deer hunters would pay $36 instead of $24.50 for a license.

Maryland hunters currently choose from 16 different licenses, stamps and permits. Under the bill, there would be seven options.

The bill would eliminate the distinction between a basic license and a consolidated license, which means all license buyers could hunt deer during all seasons. It also would eliminate the need for a deer stamp.

The bill also would:

- Set the cost of a resident junior hunting license at $18.

- Repeal the existing senior lifetime license and increase the fee for the annual senior license from $1.25 to $5.

- Establish a nonresident full-season license for a fee of $140 and increase the fee for the nonresident three-day license from $35 to $75. Buyers could hunt all game species, eliminating the need for bow and muzzleloader stamps.

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- Increase the fee for a bonus deer stamp from $5 to $10.

The increased fees would raise an extra $1.4 million for the Department of Natural Resources wildlife management program.

Republican senators tried to reduce the fees, but the amendments they offered on the Senate floor were shot down.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said the hunting license structure needs to be simplified but the proposed fees are too high.

"We have to encourage people to hunt deer because there are way too many of them," Munson said after the debate.

The state has not increased hunting license fees since 1989.

The House Environmental Matters Committee is considering a similar bill to simplify the fee structure. But that bill does not include major fee increases.

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