ANNAPOLIS, MD – In a move to support wildlife management and preserve Maryland’s natural resources, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced an increase in hunting license fees for the upcoming 2023-24 hunting season. The legislation, which was passed during the 2023 General Assembly, marks the first adjustment to hunting license prices since 2002 and aims to provide necessary funding for the department’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Karina Stonesifer, the Acting Director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service, emphasized the importance of updating the license fees to ensure the provision of high-quality services to Maryland hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. She stated, “These funds are essential for managing the state’s wildlife and associated lands that the public can enjoy.”

Sika deer, photo by Stephen Aprile, submitted to the 2017 Maryland Natural Resource Photo Contest

Hunting license fees, combined with federal grants, constitute more than 90% of the Wildlife and Heritage Service budget. The fee increase will play a vital role in several key aspects:

  1. Recruitment, Education, and Certification: The additional revenue will enable the department to actively recruit and educate new hunters while ensuring they meet certification requirements.
  2. Wildlife Population Management: With enhanced funding, the DNR will be better equipped to manage and conserve wildlife populations effectively.
  3. Acquisition and Restoration of Wildlife Habitats: The increased fees will facilitate the acquisition and restoration of vital wildlife habitats, securing their long-term preservation.
  4. Maintenance and Improvement of Wildlife Management Areas: The DNR will allocate funds to maintain and enhance existing Wildlife Management Areas, providing improved recreational opportunities for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.
  5. Technical Assistance to Landowners: The department will offer technical guidance and support to landowners, promoting responsible wildlife management practices on private properties.
  6. Wildlife Research: The additional resources will allow the DNR to conduct comprehensive wildlife research, better understand Maryland’s wildlife, and inform evidence-based management strategies.
  7. Enforcement of Wildlife Laws and Regulations: The increased funding will support the enforcement of wildlife laws and regulations, ensuring the protection of Maryland’s wildlife for the benefit of all residents.

As per the new legislation, the price of a regular resident hunting license will rise from $24.50 to $35, marking the first increase in 35 years. Non-residents can expect an increase from $130 to $160 for their hunting license. The fee adjustments will also affect apprentice and junior hunting licenses, 3-day non-resident licenses, migratory game bird stamps, and stamps/permits for furbearer-related activities.

In addition to the fee adjustments, the 2023 legislation introduces a new hunting stamp exclusively for hunting sika deer. Maryland residents must purchase a resident sika deer stamp for $10, while non-residents must obtain a $25 stamp. This new stamp will aid the department in accurately tracking the number of hunters pursuing sika deer, providing valuable data for future management decisions regarding this species.

Interested individuals can visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources official website for more detailed information on the 2023-24 hunting license and stamp fees.

The fee increase reflects the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ commitment to the responsible management of the state’s wildlife resources. By adjusting hunting license fees for the first time in over three decades, the DNR aims to ensure the sustainable preservation of Maryland’s rich natural heritage for generations to come.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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