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Sundown at Simpson Lake in Valley Park

A lone fisherman tries his luck at sunset on Monday, March 28, 2016, from the pier on Simpson Lake in Valley Park, Mo.. The fish weren't biting, but it was still a beautiful evening to watch the sun go down at the lake. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — Hunters and anglers in Missouri will pay an extra $2.4 million in license fees next year as part of a sweeping price hike being pushed by state conservation officials.

According to documents filed by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the price increases will hit thousands of people who fish, hunt small game and come from other states to shoot deer.

The largest jump in additional revenue will come from people who purchase nonresident deer hunting licenses. The department estimates 17,128 people will pay $40 more for a license, generating an additional $685,120 for the agency.

The current cost of $225 for that license is set to rise to $265.

The 11 separate fee increases, including higher prices for trout fishing enthusiasts, were first proposed by the department in May. The agency is collecting public comments on the increases, which were published by the secretary of state’s office late last month.

“The Conservation Department has not increased these permit prices in nearly two decades,” Director Sara Parker Pauley said earlier in reference to a $1 increase for trout fishing at four state parks. “We are adjusting these permit prices — which were set in 1999 — to make them more in line with today’s real costs of the work we do. The price increases will help MDC meet the pressures of increased management costs at our hatcheries, and help meet the increased demand for trout fishing around the state.”

According to the department, the annual cost of fish food and staff labor to raise a trout in 2003 was about $1 per fish. The annual cost in 2017 had jumped to nearly twice that amount.

Dave Crawford, vice president of the Ozark Fly Fishers club, told the Post-Dispatch that the increases could be helpful.

“Personally, I think it’s a good thing if they use the proceeds to improve the habitat for trout,” the Des Peres resident said Friday.

If the price increases are implemented, starting in 2020 the cost of an annual trout permit will go from $7 to $10 for anglers 16 years of age and older and from $3.50 to $5 for anglers ages 15 and younger.

The cost of a daily trout tag to fish at Missouri’s four trout parks — Maramec Spring Park, Bennett Spring State Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park — will go from $3 to $4 for adults and from $2 to $3 for those 15 years of age and younger.

Out-of-state turkey and goose hunters also will see price hikes.

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A nonresident turkey license for the spring season will rise to $224, up from $190. The department estimates the hike will generate about $230,700 and affect nearly 7,000 people.

The increase in revenue for the state comes as Gov. Mike Parson is considering signing legislation that would force wildlife poachers to pay restitution — an initiative that if implemented could generate an estimated $2.4 million each year for public schools.

{div class=”subscriber-preview”}{div class=”subscriber-only”}The proposal would allow judges to impose restitution on those who are found guilty of illegal “chasing, pursuing, killing, processing, or disposing” of several species. The measure singles out wild turkey, paddlefish, white-tailed deer, elk and black bears.

{/div}{div class=”subscriber-only”}The maximum restitution allowed in the legislation would be $750 for each wild turkey, $1,000 for each paddlefish, $2,000 for each white-tailed deer and $5,000 for each elk or black bear.

{/div}{div class=”subscriber-only”}The restitution would be in addition to fines issued by conservation officials.

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