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Hunting and fishing retailers still at odds with DNR

Some vendors say they can’t afford equipment to sell new licenses

POSTED: July 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Gerald Kennedy, owner of Papa's Bait & Tackle, uses a screen to get a net full of live bait Wednesday afternoon at his shop.

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Some local hunting and fishing retailers are still at odds with the Department of Natural Resources despite the DNR’s relaxing of a new licensing procedure set to take effect in January 2009.

Local retailers have historically sold hunting and fishing permits from their stores through equipment provided by the DNR.

But the DNR said in January the equipment had become outdated, and outsourced licensing management to Central Bank in Missouri, which originally said it would only do business with the top 20 percent of license venders for efficiency’s sake.

The DNR has since said all fishing and hunting retailers will have the option to work with Central Bank regardless of how many licences they sell.

But there’s a catch.

Retailers will now have to provide their own equipment, which includes a computer, Internet access and a printer.

And for many retailers the profit doesn’t outweigh the expense.

Hunting and fishing licenses typically yield only 50 cents to the retailer per $9 regular fishing license or $10 regular hunting license.

"We’re not doing it," said Jerry Clark, fishing department manager of Shuler’s Great Outdoors Inc. "You’re looking at lots of money for very little return."

Gerald Kennedy, owner of Papa’s Bait & Tackle, said his business has suffered because he is unable to sell licenses.

"When I opened up in July of last year they wouldn’t let me get a machine," Kennedy said.

His shop opened after the DNR phased out the old equipment but before the new system begins in 2009, leaving him without the option to sell licenses until next year.

He said people will walk into the store and ask about licenses and walk out when they learn they are unavailable. He thinks people would stay and buy bait and tackle if they could get a license at the same time.

"In the last month I’ve probably had roughly 25 people," who left because they could not get a fishing license, Kennedy said.

Clark said though the licenses themselves aren’t very profitable, people often buy other merchandise while they pick one up.

Robin Hill, a DNR spokeswoman, said the DNR will still keep most of the money from the licenses, but Central Bank will keep the "convenience fee."

And customers will have to pay more for the convenience of getting their hunting and fishing licenses over the Internet or by phone.

The cost for a fishing license will increase by $2.75 if ordered over the internet and by $4 if ordered by telephone.

Clark said he thinks the DNR and Central Bank will profit from the new licensing changes, but the higher prices will hurt customers.

"The loser is the guy buying the license," Clark said.

But other business owners, like Candy Hammond, aren’t too worried about the new system.

She said she doesn’t think the new licensing system will have much of an effect on Hammond’s Fishing & Boat Storage because her store already has a computer with Internet service.

"I don’t think it will be a big deal for us," Hammond said.



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