Changes are in store for holders of fishing and hunting licenses in Oklahoma. Here are just a few highlights:
- $15 for a senior citizen lifetime fishing or hunting license.
- $25 for a senior citizen lifetime combination license.
- Senior citizen lifetime licenses include increased privileges equal to that of regular lifetime licenses.
- All active military personnel and their dependents, regardless of their state residency, can now purchase hunting and fishing licenses at resident prices.
- Eliminates non-resident lifetime licenses.
- Nonresident deer hunters now can choose between a nonresident deer archery license, a nonresident deer muzzleloader license or a nonresident deer gun license. Each license is $280 and is valid for all of the allowed deer for that method.
- Nonresident anglers also must now purchase a $55 nonresident annual fishing license or a $35 nonresident six-day fishing license.
- Eliminates the separate trout license once required during trout season.
- New $26 Wildlife Conservation Passport is required of all residents or nonresidents who enter or use Department-owned lands, unless exempt.
- Sportsmen now have the option of purchasing a fiscal year hunting or combination license that expires June 30, rather than only having the option of a calendar year license that expires Dec. 31. The cost of the fiscal year licenses are $53 for a combination license, $32 for a hunting license, $19 for a youth combination license, $7 for a youth hunting license and $176 for a nonresident hunting license.
See the full details below.
Hunting and Fishing License Changes Immediately Affecting Sportsmen
Some changes to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s hunting and fishing license structure will affect the way some sportsmen choose the licenses they need in 2011.
At its January meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission did not have a quorum and no actions were taken. The Commission did hear several presentations, however, including one from Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of administration and finance, detailing license changes that became effective Jan. 1, 2011.
Particularly impacted by the new slate of changes are senior citizens, military personnel, non-resident sportsmen, trout anglers, wildlife management area users who are not hunting and fishing license holders and sportsmen whose favorite hunting seasons are still open at the start of a new year.
Among the changes is one that impacts the price and terms of senior citizen lifetime hunting, fishing and combination licenses. The new prices are $15 for a senior citizen lifetime fishing or hunting license and $25 for a senior citizen lifetime combination license. Additionally, senior citizen lifetime licenses now include increased privileges equal to that of regular lifetime licenses.
License changes for military personnel have taken place as well. All active military personnel and their dependents, regardless of their state residency, can now purchase hunting and fishing licenses at resident prices.
License changes for nonresidents include the elimination of non-resident lifetime licenses as well as a simplification of nonresident deer licenses. Nonresident deer hunters now can choose between a nonresident deer archery license, a nonresident deer muzzleloader license or a nonresident deer gun license. Each license is $280 and is valid for all of the allowed deer for that method. The overall combined limit of six deer (to include no more than two bucks) remains unchanged, and all other nonresident deer licenses are no longer available. Nonresident anglers also must now purchase a $55 nonresident annual fishing license or a $35 nonresident six-day fishing license.
Other significant license changes now in place include one that eliminates the separate trout license once required during trout season.
The new $26 Wildlife Conservation Passport also is now required of all residents or nonresidents who enter or use Department-owned lands, unless exempt. Individuals who possess any current hunting or fishing license issued by the Wildlife Department are exempt from Conservation Passport requirements, except holders of the resident two-day fishing license and the nonresident six-day fishing license must still purchase the Wildlife Conservation Passport. Additionally, residents under 18 years of age are exempt from Conservation Passport requirements. The Conservation Passport replaces the Blue River Passport once required on the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.
Additionally, sportsmen now have the option of purchasing a fiscal year hunting or combination license that expires June 30, rather than only having the option of a calendar year license that expires Dec. 31. The cost of the fiscal year licenses are $53 for a combination license, $32 for a hunting license, $19 for a youth combination license, $7 for a youth hunting license and $176 for a nonresident hunting license.
Other license changes new for 2011, including a number of discontinued licenses, can be viewed along with a complete listing in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” and “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”
In other business, the Commission heard a presentation from Chris O’Meilia, wildlife and fire consultation biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on what he calls a “largely unprecedented” effort to help conserve the endangered whooping crane and the imperiled lesser prairie chicken.
The effort partners the Wildlife Department with energy companies to create guidelines for future wind energy projects along the main migration corridor of the whooping crane and in important habitat for lesser prairie chickens. Known as a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), the guide would assist wind energy developers in minimizing effects of wind energy projects on whooping crane and prairie chicken habitat. Where effects cannot be minimized or avoided, the HCP would facilitate developers in mitigation efforts.
According to O’Meilia, the HCP is a way to “proactively address any threat” from significant future wind energy developments projected in the corridor. The 200-mile-wide stretch of land entailed by the plan extends from the U.S./Canadian border south to the Texas coast and includes critical wetlands for migrating whooping cranes as well as some of the most important remaining upland habitat for lesser prairie chickens. Along with portions of western Oklahoma, the plan encompasses parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and portions of Colorado and New Mexico.
The Wildlife Department applied for and received a $1.08 million grant from the USFW, which is passed through to the energy companies to fund the development and creation of the HCP. Building the HCP is part of an application process for participating energy companies to receive federal protections in the event their activities have adverse effects on whooping cranes and, if listed as an endangered species, lesser prairie chickens.
According to Russ Horton, lands and wildlife diversity supervisor for the Wildlife Department, additional federal regulations and oversight can apply to land usage when a species in the area is listed as federally endangered or threatened. Additionally, conservation measures accomplished through the plan could help improve conditions for whooping cranes and help altogether halt the listing of the lesser prairie chicken.
O’Meilia said the USFS “appreciates both the wind industry and the states for stepping up to the plate,” and said approval of the HCP by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected pending the submitted plan meets federal requirements set forth for HCP projects.
According to O’Meilia, the effort “gives the states a seat at the table” in discussing what effects they believe will occur from wind energy developments and how to minimize them and mitigate for them.
The Commission also recognized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, the Sutton Avian Research Center and the OSU Extension for their partnership and contributions in the development of the Wildlife Department’s Greater Prairie Chicken Spatial Planning Tool. The tool mimics the Department’s Lesser Prairie chicken Spatial Planning Tool, but is specific to the conservation needs of Oklahoma’s other prairie chicken species.
While much attention in recent years has been directed toward Oklahoma’s lesser prairie chicken, which occurs in short to mid grass prairie portions of northwest Oklahoma, the state also is home to the greater prairie chicken. Native to the tallgrass prairie regions of northern and northeastern Oklahoma and north throughout the central Great Plains, the greater prairie chicken is fairing much better rangewide than their western counterpart in terms of conservation need. But wildlife officials are working now to maintain stability of the species in Oklahoma.
According to Horton, the greater prairie chicken and lesser prairie chicken spatial planning tools encourage voluntary conservation and habitat restoration for land development activities that impact the species in their native ranges.
The tool is a habitat-based model that quantifies the value of every acre within the greater prairie chicken range as it pertains to suitability for prairie chicken habitat, helping developers minimize impacts of their projects, establishing management priorities for the Wildlife Department and determining ecological and economical impacts of activities within specific portions of the species’ range. The Oklahoma Greater Prairie Chicken Spatial Planning Tool, available on the Wildlife Department’s website at wildlifedepartment.com, is provided in formats compatible with both GIS (.img) and Google Earth (.kmz). An 8.5″ x 11″ map also is available.
On behalf of the Wildlife Department, Horton expressed appreciation for the cooperation, the efforts and the expertise of the partners that helped establish the tool for the Department’s website.
The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The next scheduled Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m., Feb. 7, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
Michael Bergin or Micah Holmes (405) 521-3856