New proposal could bring lifetime fishing licenses to Wisconsin

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 4:07 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Monday, State Representative Ron Tusler and Senator Patrick Testin circulated a proposal to create a lifetime fishing license for Wisconsin residents.

“This is an opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and develop a lifetime hobby,” said Rep. Tusler. “The lifetime license is a great option for avid fishermen or as a gift for a young family member just getting hooked on the sport.”

Around half of the U.S. has some form of a lifetime fishing license, including Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio. The cost of the license varies by state, with fees running from around $200 up to the $2,000 range. The current proposal would place Wisconsin somewhere in the middle, as the price per license is set at thirty times the fee of a resident annual fishing license, which is currently sold for $19.25.

Wisconsin resident fishing licenses consistently generate around $9-$10 million in revenue for the DNR conservation fund, which funds various fish and wildlife management projects. “Many people take up fishing in childhood and continue to fish for decades,” said Sen. Testin. “This bill would let anglers make a long-term commitment to their sport and to the future of fishing and conservation here in Wisconsin.”

A similar proposal introduced by Rep. Tusler and Sen. Testin in late 2019 did not become law, but did earn broad bi-partisan support along with the backing of the Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited.