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ALERT: New bill will severely impact nonresident hunters in WY

Wyoming bill SF0094 to severely impact Wyoming nonresident hunters

  • Feb. 12, 1:59 p.m. PST Update: I just got a text message saying this bill failed. See more info here. 1 in support, 28 not in support.

Wyoming bill SF0094 stopped

  • Feb. 11, 3:32 p.m. PST Update: We reached out to several organizations to comment on this bill. You can read their statements at the bottom of the article.

Early this morning I received an email from the Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association (WOGA) mentioning a new bill that was introduced yesterday, Feb. 10. This bill was introduced by Senator Hicks that will severely impact all nonresident hunters in the state of Wyoming! The bill in question is SF0094.

Note: the Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association are against this bill.

Screenshot of Wyoming bill SF0094

Screenshot of Wyoming bill SF0094.

"AN ACT relating to game and fish; modifying the number of licenses reserved for resident hunters; increasing specified nonresident license fees; repealing provisions for special nonresident licenses; and providing for an effective date."

Areas worth mentioning

  • Based on discussions with WOGA, this bill actually has the potential to take away regulative authority and remove the language around the 7,250 guaranteed nonresident elk numbers in Statute. This is not just a decrease in limited quota, but all nonresident licenses!
  • The Special Draw license split would be discontinued.
  • Under the proposed bill, Wyoming will reserve at least 90% of big game, bison and grizzly bear licenses to resident hunters.
    • This will drastically cut tag numbers! Most species will see greater than a 50% cut in nonresident tags.
  • In any hunt area with less than ten (10) licenses available, the commission shall not issue any licenses to nonresident hunters pursuant to this subsection
  • When the commission determines the number of licenses available for nonresident hunters under this subsection, the commission shall reserve at least thirty percent (30%) of those licenses for nonresident hunters who are hunting with a licensed outfitter. The commission shall adopt rules necessary to implement a process to issue licenses to nonresident hunters who are hunting with a licensed outfitter.

Fee increases

  • Resident application fees will stay the same
  • Nonresident application fee will increase from $15.00 to $17.00. A 13.33% increase.

It is also worth mentioning that Wyoming recently had a license and preference point fee increase in 2018. You can read that article here.

Potential Wyoming fee increases

All are nonresident
fee increases
2019
Fee
Future
Fees
Percent
increase
Deer $372 $550 47.85%
Elk $690 $800 15.94%
Bighorn Sheep $2,318 $3,000 29.42%
Mountain Goat $2,160 $2,500 15.74%
Moose $1,900 $2,500 31.58%
Antelope $324 $425 31.17%
Bison $4,400 $5,500 25.0%

New bill fiscal notes

New bill fiscal notes.

What can you do?

Contact these five Senators who are on the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee. These people directly have the power to impact hunting in Wyoming.

Ogden.Driskill@wyoleg.gov
Liisa.Anselmi-Dalton@wyoleg.gov
Tom.James@wyoleg.gov
Glenn.Moniz@wyoleg.gov
Jeff.Wasserburger@wyoleg.gov

In conclusion

What are your thoughts? If passed, we could see these changes being implemented on January 1, 2022. As stated at the beginning of this article, in that email I received this morning, the Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association are strongly opposed to this bill!


New information added

We reached out for comments, and below are two pieces of information from Sy Gilliland, President of the Wyoming Outfitters & Guides Association and Jess Johnson, Advocacy and Legislative Liaison, Wyoming Wildlife Federation.

"This bill is bad for Wildlife management as it takes away the commissions' authority to set license quotas for Elk, Deer and Antelope. Sheep, Moose, Bison and Mtn Goat are currently set in state statute. The reason this is so important is wildlife populations fluctuate and the Game and Fish needs to be able to adjust quotas as needed in order to remain fiscally sound and manage our herds. Currently, the Wyoming resident receives or buys roughly 80% of the big game licenses and funds 20% of the department license fees. Nonresident hunters receive approximately 20% of the licenses and provide 80% of the department's license fee funding. This is a great model and both resident and nonresident sportsmen benefit. The resident has incredible opportunities to hunt big game and in fact Wyoming only has 70,000 residents hunting big game or 12% of our states population. Wyoming does not have enough big game hunters to harvest the amount of wildlife that’s needed to be harvested annually. In fact right at 40% of the resident hunters only buy one big game license per year. So Wyoming has to rely on nonresidents not only to fund our department but also harvest the amount of game needed each year. To be fair, the vast majority of resident hunters support nonresident hunters and realize the vast economic contributions they make to our department and tourism economy. It’s really limited to a very few malcontents that don’t want non residents competing with them in the field.

To be crystal clear the members of WYOGA at no time were ever consulted by Senator Hicks about this bill or the 30% outfitter set aside. I am sure Senator Hicks thought offering a license set aside for Outfitters would garner outfitter support. By cutting nonresident hunting licenses by half, then offering 30% of half as a carrot to get our support, Senator Hicks demonstrated how little regard he has for the huge contributions to Wyoming's economy made by nonresident sportsman. The members of WYOGA do not support any aspect of SF94 including the license set aside.

I encourage our nonresident sportsmen to have their voices heard and email the state Senators listed on the TRW committee."

Sy Gilliland
President WYOGA

 

"This 90/10 bill...while it looks on the surface to benefit residents (it does only a minuscule amount- see fact sheet) ultimately it is an economic hit for Wyoming communities that rely on nonresident dollars in shoulder seasons (Think Cody, Jackson, and other tourism-dependent counties).  To offset the balloon effect that less nonresident fees would cost the game and fish budget we are left with the option to either hike resident fees (a nonstarter in the Wyoming legislature) or to hike an already pricey non- resident fee which we have no way of predicting where the ceiling is for folks who will just find this too expensive to hunt in our state at all. Wyoming Wildlife Federation (WWF) is worried about the overall negative effect on hunter recruitment, especially in the instance of our young folks who leave home for and after college and wish to still hunt this amazing state as a nonresident. We are also concerned about economic dollars to communities, small businesses and outfitters. Hunting is a huge part of our state and we want to keep it as an accessible and high quality of a hunt as our stats allow."

Jess Johnson
Advocacy and Legislative Liaison, Wyoming Wildlife Federation

More information provided by the Wyoming Wildlife Federation

Vote ‘NO’ on Senate File 94: Wyoming Resident/Nonresident License Allocation

This bill changes the current framework of license allocation from approximately 84% of big game licenses going to resident hunters and 16-20% to nonresidents to 90% of big game, bison, and grizzly bear licenses being reserved for resident hunters. Additionally, it bars any unit with less than 10 licenses available from issuing nonresident licenses and raises nonresident license and application fees significantly, making Wyoming the most expensive place to hunt antelope, bison, moose, and mountain goats, and second most expensive place to hunt deer, bighorn sheep, and elk for nonresidents.

WHY you should oppose this bill:

A 90/10 license allocation split is going to cost Wyoming residents and the state.

  • This bill would represent a loss of about 7% of nonresident licenses available. This loss in nonresident hunter spending into Wyoming’s economy (which is approximately $86.6 million annually) would be over $5 million out of the pockets of Wyoming residents that make their living supporting sportsmen and women.
  • While the bill sets aside 30% of nonresident licenses for hunting with guides and outfitters, this is from a license pool that is 37% smaller. This provision does not compensate for the economic losses to guides and outfitters.
  • In addition to the economic losses for Wyoming residents, tax revenues will also be impacted. The total tax revenues generated by nonresident hunters is estimated at $14.6 million, so a 7% loss would be over a $1 million loss to the state that is not accounted for by raising nonresident license prices.
  • Because of the structure of the new license allocation, over-the-counter tags would no longer be available to nonresident hunters if it would put nonresident hunters in any unit over 10%. This will lower the number of tags that Game and Fish can issue in some units and reduce their flexibility in managing Wyoming’s wildlife.

It does not increase hunting opportunity enough to justify the costs. Large applicant pools, not limited licenses, are responsible for low drawing odds.

  • In bighorn sheep for example, 176 licenses were available for residents and nonresidents combined in 2019. 132 of those went to residents, and 44 to nonresidents. Considering the numbers of applicants in each pool, residents had about a 1.25% chance of drawing a tag, while nonresidents had about a 0.5% chance.
  • Under this bill, no unit with fewer than 10 licenses can issue a license to a nonresident. Within that framework, about 158 of the available licenses would go to residents and 18 to nonresidents. Because applicant pools are so large, (10,567 residents applied in 2019) the odds of drawing a sheep tag for a resident would only increase to 1.5% overall.

Sources:

Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association 2016: Big Game Hunting and Outfitting Economic Contributions in Wyoming
Wyoming Game and Fish 2019: Drawing Odds Reports

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