Free outdoor licenses for Kansas seniors to end

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - In an effort to increase revenue to support wildlife programs, the state of Kansas in January will end a policy that provided hunting and fishing licenses for free to those between the ages of 65 and 74.

State officials estimated ending the exemption, which began in 1971, will raise $900,000 to $1.5 million in fee revenue and by making the state eligible for more federal funds directed toward outdoor programs, The Joplin Globe reported Sunday . Residents 75 and older will remain exempt from the fees.

Wildlife conservation and management in Kansas is supported by revenue from license sales, not general tax dollars, along with federal aid from an excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

The formula that is used to distribute the federal funds is based on the size of the state and the number of licensed hunters.

Mike Miller, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the state loses out on some federal aid because up to 30,000 older hunters don't have to buy licenses, which means that aren't counted for the federal formula.

The problem will get worse, he said, because that age group is the fastest growing one for outdoor pursuits.

And the state doesn't want to raise rates on younger hunters and anglers because it is trying to recruit more young people to take part in wildlife activities, Miller said.

The Kansas legislation that abolished the exemption provides licenses at a reduced cost for seniors.

The Senior Lifetime Pass, a lifetime hunting-fishing combination license, costs $42.50. Those 65 and older also could choose an annual fishing or hunting license at half the regular price, $11.50, or an annual hunting-fishing combination license for $20.50.

The new senior licenses, along with all licenses and permits for 2013, go on sale this Friday.

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