SNYDER: Even with possible price increase, hunting license still worth the cost


I've got a challenge for you. Show me something that has not increased in price over the last 16 years. What's out there that costs the same today that it did in 1999?

If you're a hunter who's been paying attention to the news, you know the answer. The price of a hunting license in Pennsylvania has not risen in well over a decade.

If the Game Commission gets its way, that's about to change In fact, it wants to double the cost of a base hunting license over the next five years.

That's right. If the agency gets the approval from lawmakers it needs, today's $19 license will go up by $10 right away and then will increase by another $5 three and five years from now. At the end of the cycle, the price will have risen to $39.

There's no doubt the commission has a case.

Over the last 15 years, the cost of doing business in this country has increased by leaps and bounds..

Since the last time our licenses saw an increase, labor costs have risen by over forty percent. Gasoline prices have more than doubled. And insurance costs are through the roof.

Imagine if you had to survive on what you made in 1999. It'd be tough.

Of course, we're all quick to point out the massive amount of money the Commission has made from its oil and gas leases. It's been a lucrative business for the agency – tens of millions of dollars.

But if you've watched the commodities market, you know what's happened. Prices have fallen through the floor — cutting into the commission's share of the profits.

That fact, no doubt, played a part in the timing of this proposed license hike. Rising oil and gas prices can't be counted on as a sustainable income source.

And we must remember, the commission receives no money from the state's general fund. It's funded by hunters and the proceeds from the land it owns.

And don't forget, even with a price approaching $40 in a few years, Pennsylvania's hunting licenses would be still be one of the cheapest in the nation. It is hard to deny the bargain we are getting.

Most folks are proud that hunters are the folks funding the Commission. But anytime a license hike is on the table, I argue it's worth reviewing that fact.

Every person in Pennsylvania benefits from the Commission's work, yet just a small (and dwindling) portion of the population pays for it.

The Commission manages 465 different species. Hunters are after just a handful of those animals, yet their financial contributions make up the bulk of the agency's annual revenues. Does that make sense?

By designating just a small portion of the state's general fund towards preserving and protecting Pennsylvania's wildlife resources every citizen and animal would benefit. It would lessen the financial burden on the state's hunters.

Unfortunately, it would also open the door to Harrisburg's politics something nobody is eager to embrace.

From here, the fate of the increase lies in the hands politicians. History shows they aren't fans of increasing the price of a hunting license (too bad they don't feel that way about taxes). That means it's time to let them know your thoughts.

The ability to hunt in Pennsylvania is well worth a few extra bucks.

— Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for the York Dispatch. He can be reached at