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Outdoors: Fallin signs compact with Choctaw Nation

Members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma living in the state will be able to get hunting and fishing licenses from the tribe at no cost beginning next year.

The licenses issued by the tribe will give Choctaw resident citizens the same hunting and fishing privileges as an Oklahoma hunting and fishing license.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton announced Wednesday the signing of the hunting and fishing compact, which will allow the tribe to buy hunting and fishing licenses at a bulk rate and then give to its resident citizens.

It is similar agreement that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma reached with the governor's office last year. The Choctaw Nation now becomes the second tribe in Oklahoma to have tribal-state compact over hunting and fishing rights.

The agreement will allow the Choctaw Nation to buy from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at least 50,000 annual hunting and fishing licenses at $2 each for its resident citizens between the ages of 16 and 64.

In addition, the Choctaw Nation will pay a lump sum of $200,000 and an administrative cost payment of $75,000 to the Wildlife Department each year that the three-year compact is in effect.

The compact takes effect Jan.1, 2017, and runs through Dec. 31, 2019.

As with the agreement with the Cherokees, state wildlife officials say the fishing and hunting licenses issued by the Choctaw Nation will generate additional federal money for the Wildlife Department and more than compensate for the loss or revenue from tribal members not buying state licenses.

Revenue for fish and wildlife is raised through a manufacturers excise tax on hunting and fishing merchandise.

That money is collected by the federal government and then reimbursed to states through grants by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The dispersal is based on formula that includes the total number of hunters and anglers in each state.

The more licensed hunters and anglers a state has, the more federal money it receives. The Wildlife Department must receive at least $2 for each license from the tribes for the agency to be able to count tribal-issued licenses in the federal formula.

As a result of Wednesday's announcement, members of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma between the ages of 16 and 64 will receive at no cost to them:

• an annual hunting and fishing combination license

• an annual trapping license

• a bobcat, raccoon, river otter, gray and red fox license

• a state waterfowl stamp

• up to four turkey licenses

• up to six deer licenses, and a land access permit to the Three Rivers and Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Oklahoma.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›