Licenses - A Giving Tradition

The Idaho Fish and Game department was created by the state Legislature in 1899. Gov. Frank Steunenberg appointed Charles H. Arbuckle the state’s first game warden. His salary was $1,200 per year and another $300 was allowed for running the department. Deputy game wardens, appointed in each county, got half of each fine the obtained.

Realizing that enforcing the law was not practical on $300 a year, Arbuckle proposed a continuing source of revenue in the form of annual hunting and fishing licenses at $2 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. But his proposals were rejected.

In 1903, however, the Legislature required resident males over the age of 12 buy a $1 license to hunt and fish. For nonresidents it was $5 to hunt birds and $25 to hunt big game. Women did not need a license.

Money from the sale of licenses and any fines collected went into the fish and game fund.

H. Thorpe, game warden in 1917 and '18, recommended raising the cost of game license to $1.50 with the extra 50 cents to be used to pay for screening ditches and canals. “Millions of fish are being lost annually in this state because canals and ditches are not screened,” he said. The increase took effect in 1919.

In 1921, Warden Otto M. Jones convinced the Legislature to require women and children over age 12 to buy a hunting and fishing license, and increased the fee to $2. The requirement was later rescinded, and in 1927, women were again required to have licenses to hunt and fish. Nonresident hunting licenses were raised to $50.

Today a resident hunting license costs $12.75 and a nonresident license is $154.75; a resident fishing license is $25.75 and a nonresident license is $98.25. Hunting and fishing licenses also come in a combination license as well as junior licenses and small game licenses. Discount license also are available for seniors, veteran and disabled persons.

In 2013, Fish and Game added the option to buy three year licenses.