A lot of folks have raised questions about the disappearance of the WMA permit and the arrival of the new Public Lands Pass, so I wanted to do a quick post to things up.
First off, it’s true that as of July 1, the WMA permit is no longer available. Any hunter with a valid hunting license (or any fisherman with a valid fishing license) will no longer need a special permit to hunt (or fish) on Georgia’s WMAs. However, public land users who do not have a hunting or fishing license — hikers, bird watchers, shooting range users, campers, etc. — will now be required to have the new $30 public lands pass, or they can save a few bucks and buy a hunting or fishing license. It’s a great move by the DNR to take some of the burden of paying for public land management off the backs of hunters and fisherman, who have footed the bill for years, and put it on ALL public land users. Additionally, it encourages even non-hunters to purchase a hunting license, since it’s cheaper than the Public Lands Pass, which brings in more federal dollars to the state DNR through Pittman-Robertson funds.
The good news for public land hunters is that the elimination of the WMA permit nearly covers the increase in hunting license fees that occurred this year. For example, last year a public land deer hunter would have paid $9 for a hunting license, $10 for a big game permit and $19 for a WMA permit, totaling $38. This year, that same deer hunter will only need a $15 hunting license and $25 big game permit, totaling $40. A whopping $2 increase for the first time in 25 years. I think we’ll survive.
For a list of public lands that require either a hunting/fishing license or a Public Lands Pass, click here.
For more license fee information, check out this link.
To discuss this issues, head over to our Facebook group, Georgia Hunting Discussion (family friendly).