Draper senator wants to end hunting guide licensing

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Whether you go to a pharmacist, accountant, dentist, or engineer, their credibility starts with being professionally licensed. What about hunting guides?

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, wants to repeal the Hunting Guides and Licensing Act, which he says is too much regulation.  Stephenson has requested a bill be drafted, but it has not been numbered or released to the public.

The Senate chambers are shown in session at the Utah state Capitol in 2015. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Senate chambers are shown in session at the Utah state Capitol in 2015. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In Utah, almost all licensing is administered through DOPL (Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing). Of all the licensing within the state hunting guides and outfitters make up 1/5 of 1 percent of total licenses., according to Francine Giani, executive director, of the Utah Department of Commerce.

Stephenson brought the issue before the administrative rules review committee in November. The question raised was what good does it do to regulate this industry? Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, was among the speakers.

Hinkins has a special interest in the regulation of hunting outfit permits. Hinkins owns, along with his brothers, Triple H Outfitters, a hunting outfit in Southern Utah. Hinkins, who is not a member of the committee, spoke in an unofficial capacity.

The Hunting Guides and Outfitters Licensing Act currently requires that guides and outfitters, who lead hunts on public land, be licensed by the state. For those who guide exclusively on private land, no licensing is required.

Hinkins said he fears that the licensing of hunting guides has lead to competitors reporting unwarranted violations on each other. Hinkins worries that the result is that fewer young people will be able to have careers in the industry.

To become licensed guides must pass a 100-question test, scoring at 75 percent. In addition, applicants must complete a total of 100 days of training signed off by an instructor who can be another licensed guide. Hinkins claimed that “the requirements are the toughest in the western states.” The 100 total days come from different skills trainings. These skills can vary from horsemanship, to trophy judging skills, to booking clientele.

Whether the requirements or $75 fee are excessive or not, the perceived threat to outfitters is that competitors can report a complaint that would require time and money to disprove claims.

Rep. Curt Webb, R-Logan, said that the complaints of competitors is simply part of regulation. Webb disagrees with the need of licensing of hunting guides. “but when you regulate it’s part of the risk I’m afraid.”

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