BISMARCK, N.D. - A proposal to increase fees for nonresident anglers in North Dakota would be a nightmare to administer, say officials and business people who sell fishing licenses.
Under the bill being considered by the North Dakota Senate, out-of-state anglers would have to pay the amount a North Dakota resident would be charged for a license in their home state, if that amount was higher than North Dakota's fee for nonresidents.
For example, a South Dakota resident fishing in North Dakota would pay South Dakota's rate of $60, rather than North Dakota's nonresident rate of $35. A Minnesota resident, where the nonresident charge is also $35, would not pay more.
Minnesotans account for almost half of the state's fishing license sales to nonresidents, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department says.
The proposal might be a way to increase the state's fishing license income, said Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan.
"It's not intended to keep anybody out of our state," he told members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. The committee later voted to recommend that the full Senate defeat the bill.
Resort owners said the proposal would be difficult to administer.
Kyle Blanchfield, who runs a resort on Devils Lake and serves as president of the North Dakota Professional Guides and Outfitters Association, said he sells about 60,000 fishing licenses each year.
Having to keep track of every state's nonresident fees would be complex, and "in the end North Dakota tourism will be the one hurt the most," he said.
Duaine Ash, a spokesman for the North Dakota Sportfishing Congress, asked whether a business would be financially liable for a license fee error. He also questioned whether the change would generate much income.
The Game and Fish Department estimated the proposal might generate an extra $10,000 per year, about $1,000 of which would go toward administrative costs.
Les Korgel, the McLean County auditor, said county auditors do much of the licensing work, and he believes administering the proposed law would cost much more than $1,000. McLean County sold almost 1,000 nonresident licenses last year, he said.
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