LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to increase the fees for resident and nonresident trout permits during today’s regularly scheduled meeting in Little Rock. The new price for resident trout permits will be $10 annually, while the nonresident trout permit will increase to $20 annually.

This is the first increase to the resident stamp since 1987 and the first increase to the nonresident stamp since 2003.

The increase in revenue from the stamp will be dedicated to funding the renovation of the AGFC’s Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, trout management efforts and improving fishing access and opportunities.

The resident stamp’s increase was authorized by Act 886 during the 92nd General Assembly earlier this year.

The increase will not go into effect until Aug. 1.

The Commission also heard the first reading of a proposal to consolidate WMA-specific five-day waterfowl permits to be usable on any AGFC WMA, while the permit is valid.

Nonresidents are required to have this permit to hunt waterfowl on 27 WMAs.

Currently, a person would need to purchase a separate 5-day permit for each WMA they planned to hunt.

With the proposed consolidation, nonresidents could travel to different WMAs during the five-day window without purchasing an additional permit.

There is no limit to the number of permits a nonresident may purchase, but they will be valid only Nov. 23-Dec. 2, 2019; Dec. 27, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020; and Jan. 22-31, 2020, the periods for nonresident hunting that were set during April’s regularly scheduled Commission meeting.

In other business, the Commission:

Officially named the newest AGFC nature center, currently under construction in Springdale, the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center.

Heard the first reading of a regulation to create a Disabled Veteran Lifetime Combination License at a cost of $52.50 for any disabled veteran who has a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or higher or a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or higher and is a recipient of the Purple Heart medal. This license is in accordance with Act 729, which was passed during the 92nd General Assembly.

Recognized Megan Perkins, liaison to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office, who announced the Governor’s proclamation of Free Fishing Weekend from noon, June 7, through midnight June 9, 2019. Anyone, resident or nonresident, may fish these days in accordance with all laws and regulations without a fishing license or trout permit.

Heard the first reading of updates to captive wildlife regulations, including:

The addition of 104 species to the unrestricted wildlife species list that would be exempt from Wildlife Breeder/Dealer and Wildlife Importation permit requirements and could be imported, bred and sold without these permits. This list includes 76 bird species and 28 turtle species.

The addition of 486 species to the permitted captive wildlife species list that require permits for importation, breeding and sale. This list includes 38 mammal species, three bird species, two turtle species, eight toad species and 435 venomous snakes.

The extension of current Wildlife Breeder/Dealer and Wildlife Importation permits for up to 90 days from the permit expiration date of June 30, 2019, for permittees authorized to import, breed or sell certain mammal species. The additional time will allow for the completion of species evaluations.

Authorized Director Pat Fitts to execute a written agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue to act under the Endangered Species Act for the purpose of conserving endangered, threatened and at-risk fish and wildlife in Arkansas.

Heard an update from Deke Whitbeck, president of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, on the Foundation’s upcoming Commissioners’ Cup High School Bass Fishing Tournament and the announcement of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet at the Statehouse Convention Center Aug. 24.

Recognized six AGFC employees with a combined 110 years of experience for their service to Arkansas’s natural resources.

Granted a CO2-powered dart rifle and net blaster from surplus inventory to the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources to aid in teaching students safe wildlife capture methods for research.

Granted radios from the AGFC’s surplus inventory to the Perry County Sheriff’s Office to aid them in their communication needs.

Awarded retiring wildlife officer Cpl. Mike Story his service sidearm.

Awarded retiring wildlife officer Cpl. Terry McCullough his service sidearm.

Approved the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $244,389.19 and a current net book value of $7,165.33.