The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is working to close a projected thirty-two million dollar gap in its next two-year budget. Sales of state hunting and fishing licenses are at a 30-year low, and operating costs are on the rise.
Agency officials propose cutting staff and programs, raising prices on licenses and tags, and asking lawmakers for more money from the state’s general fund.
Roy Ellicker is the director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says the goal is to balance the budget, without discouraging people from fishing and hunting.
“We’re in a difficult situation," Ellicker says. "If we were going to raise hunting and fishing license fees to cover our total budget shortfall, that’ll drive participation lower, which is not what we want to happen.”
Ellicker says if his agency can't get more funding from the general fund, there may be more cutbacks to programs and staff.
ODFW’s total proposed budget is about three hundred sixty-one million dollars. Hunters and anglers provide more than forty percent of that through fees and taxes.
The commission will meet again in August to approve the budget or make changes.