Tennessee Hunters Bristle At Proposed Fee Increase
A TWRA agent releases trout at Nice's Mill in Smyrna. The agency says it has stocked 100 million fish in Tennessee and manages 1.5 million acres of publicly accessible land. Credit: TWRA via Facebook

Tennessee Hunters Bristle At Proposed Fee Increase

A TWRA agent releases trout at Nice's Mill in Smyrna. The agency says it has stocked 100 million fish in Tennessee and manages 1.5 million acres of publicly accessible land. Credit: TWRA via Facebook
A TWRA agent releases trout at Nice’s Mill in Smyrna. The agency says it has stocked 100 million fish in Tennessee and manages 1.5 million acres of publicly accessible land. Credit: TWRA via Facebook

Tennessee outdoor enthusiasts are resisting a proposal to increase the cost of hunting licenses in the state, even though it’s the first fee-hike in a decade.

Brian Brew is a taxidermist from Spring Hill who also runs several online forums for hunters. “I don’t know if I’ve seen one positive post made about it,” he says.

But the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency defends the new fees, which would also — for the first time — charge non-hunters for using state-managed lands for activities such as mountain biking and horseback riding.

“The reality is that managing our wildlife and fisheries has never been more expensive than it is today,” TWRA executive director Ed Carter said in a statement. “Our objective with this proposal is to spread the cost of these programs across more user groups who utilize Tennessee’s public lands and waters.”

TWRA’s plan also calls for a larger increase on out-of-state hunters. But the agency, which is largely self-funded instead of getting tax dollars, would still raise fees on residents by more than 20 percent, arguing that it’s the only way to stave off further cuts.

Hunters say they can see evidence of those cuts. Compared to eight years ago, 46 fewer game wardens and biologists are on staff.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face that now you’re going to pay more for what you think is less anyway,” Brew says. “You’re not getting your bang for the buck, basically.”

The Tennessee Commission on Fish and Wildlife meets Jan. 15 to approve the new fee structure, which would take effect July 1.

See the proposed fee breakdown here.

Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer is WPLN's assistant news director, but he wears many hats - reporter, editor and host. He covers the Tennessee state capitol while also keeping an eye on Fort Campbell and business trends, frequently contributing to national programs. Born in Tennessee and educated in Texas, Blake has called Nashville home for most of his life.
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