A dozen years ago, gas was less than $1.50 a gallon, a movie cost about $6, and a Minnesota fishing license was $17.

Today, gas is nearing $4 a gallon, a first-run flick can set you back $10 -- but that fishing license is still $17.

But not for long.

Minnesota's hunting and fishing license fees will increase March 1 for the first time since 2001, and the changes are among the largest and most comprehensive ever.

The cost of a fishing license jumps by $5 to $22. A small game hunting license, now $19, will cost $22. And a deer license, now $26, will cost $30.

Many hunters, anglers, legislators and Department of Natural Resources officials say the increases are long overdue.

"People recognize it's been a long time [since prices have been raised], and it has been a bargain,'' said Ed Boggess, DNR fish and wildlife division director. Even with the increase, fishing will cost less than $2 a month, Boggess noted.

Not everyone will pay more. There are new $5 hunting and fishing licenses for youths, and new three-day licenses for occasional hunters and anglers.

Minnesota's prices will remain in the middle of the pack compared to other states. In a 2010 comparison done for the DNR, Minnesota's $17 fishing license ranked 36th. After the $5 increase, it will be rank about 25th, said the DNR's Jenifer Wical. The $30 deer license also places Minnesota 25th.

The fee increases, approved by the Legislature last year, also tries to prompt youngsters to hunt and fish. Youths age 16 and 17 can buy a small game license or a fishing license for $5 each.

Other changes will try to appeal to casual hunters and anglers.

A new three-day small game license will be sold for $19, and with it state duck and pheasant stamps aren't required to hunt those species. The DNR will sell non-residents that same license for $75.

A new three-day fishing license will cost $12, and no trout stamp is needed to fish for that species.

The cost for spearers will go down. A spearing license, now $17, will cost $5, but spearers must possess a fishing license, too.

Non-residents will pay more, too. A non-resident small game license, now $84.50, will cost $102; a deer license, now $140, will cost $165; a nonresident fishing license, now $39.50, will cost $45.

The fee increases were sought because inflation over the years had eroded the DNR's Game and Fish Fund.

"It was headed for insolvency,'' Boggess said.

The increases will generate about $10.7 million annually, but only about $4 million is considered "new money'' said Boggess. "The rest goes to maintain the solvency of the Game and Fish Fund.''

Among the areas that will see those additional dollars: wildlife area habitat, waterfowl monitoring and management, the wildlife health program, prairies and wildlife damage management, fish and creel surveys, aquatic habitat and the recruitment/retention of hunters and anglers.\