License freebies shouldn’t penalize ODNR

Proposals introduced in the state legislature would provide free hunting and fishing licenses to Ohioans age 65 and older, and allow members of the military on active duty to hunt deer and wild turkey without buying permits.

Both proposals are well-intended. Soldiers and sailors on leave or furlough certainly deserve the chance to hunt something that won’t shoot back for free. And many senior citizens are living on fixed incomes.

While the legislation is worth consideration, such deliberation should take into account the financial impact upon the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

In short, the bills should be amended so ODNR would be reimbursed for the likely loss in funding due to the exemptions.

Although senior Ohioans already can obtain hunting and fishing licenses for a reduced fee, every free license could cost ODNR twice. That’s because the number of hunting and fishing licenses sold are used to calculate Ohio’s share of federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, fishing tackle and the like.

Again, the sentiment behind bills to offer free licenses and hunting permit exemptions is commendable. But the department that manages state parks and wildlife should be shielded from suffering financially from the changes.