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Is the future of Wyoming hunting in jeopardy?


Large velvet bull elk
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The future of hunting in Wyoming could be in jeopardy. Officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) are currently evaluating alternative revenue sources and considering an increase to license fees as possible solutions.

Hunting and angling numbers are down and the state has not increased license fees since 2008 and could be out of money in three years, according to the Casper Star Tribune. While the department recently weathered a series of cuts to help curb the situation like limiting the number of fish stocked in certain reservoirs and ending a hunting and fish heritage expo, those directly involved say that these are only short-term solutions to a very large problem.

But Wyoming residents are already looking for long-term solutions. The Governor’s Fish and Wildlife Task Force, comprised of 19 residents, has met twice to gather information and propose ideas. The group has discussed a broad range of topics ranging from allowing the Game and Fish Commission to have more authority to raise license fees as well as asking the Legislature handle management costs associated with nongame animals.

Continued below.

While it will not be easy to pass a bill giving the Commission more authority, committee member Sen. Stan Cooper (R-Kemmerer), believes that it could work. “It could be a rough ride. If you look at the history, the Legislature hasn’t been too keen on allowing the Game and Fish Department to regulate their own licensing fees,” says Cooper. “It will definitely be an educating process of legislators to the TRW [Travel Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources] committee if we want to get something to fly... but that’s our job.”

Other committee members acknowledge that the future of hunting and angling across the state depends on recruiting children interested in these outdoor activities and is looking at ways to bring an outdoor education back to the schools.

“Game and Fish is spending less than 1 percent of its revenue on outreach, and that is not going to cut it for the future,” says Steve Kilpatrick, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation who also serves on the committee. “How do we get back in the schools? Game and Fish left the schools.”

While there may not be an easy answer to the problem, Wyoming residents do not want to see a continued decline in these important outdoor pursuits. It will be interesting to see what the Task Force recommends after its initial research and discussions as well as the steps that the state will take to help fix this issue.


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Josh L. - posted 4 years ago on 11-22-2015 04:16:46 am

I live in Alaska and hunt all over it. If somebody gets lost the state can simply bill them for the recovery and make even more money. Wyoming should open these areas to hunting and be fair to the citizens of this country.

Frank Gryncewicz_890962334311979
Frank G. - posted 4 years ago on 08-13-2015 09:29:58 am
Pickwick Lake Tennessee

Never hunted Alaska, now that is true wilderness, wouldn't consider it without one up there.
I agree with you, go upland birds or roaming around is OK, but deer/elk is not? Now granted I would never go alone on a deer/elk hunt how do you get one out without help, and obvious safety reasons. AS far as getting my a$$ lost out there requiring a search party to find me, did you ever hear of GPS and Google earth? There are areas here in TN, AL and MS you don't venture into without the proper preparation. Your nonresident fees are "cheap" compared to a number of other states, bump them up some to generate more revenue I'm all for that. A number of hunters down here would enjoy hunting Wyoming. The added cost of a guide nixed the idea for us. The truth be known, scoring a quality animal is no guarantee with or without a guide. Why would anyone want to pay someone NOT to harvest one? The find your lost A$$ has no merit. Want to generate $$$ let hunters in and hunt. Can't understand how requiring a guide helps generate revenue for the state, the opposite is true.

Duce l. - posted 4 years ago on 08-13-2015 08:38:35 am

While I appreciate the comments on the wilderness, a few extra non-resident hunters in those areas will not solve the departments' financial woes. As a state we need to consider a steady form of income on top of the licensing. In the past the game and fish department has been self sustaining but with all of the federal mandates along with the decline in hunting license purchases this is not possible any longer. With the cost of hunting in general there will be fewer hunters in the future leaving even greater short falls for the department.
By the way, I do not agree with the wilderness law. You can do anything you want in the wilderness but hunt big game???

jeff V. - posted 4 years ago on 08-13-2015 08:08:02 am

To Lowell,
So i can hunt grouse or whatever in the wilderness and thats safe, but not a elk or deer.

Totally unfair, it's public land owned by the American citizens.

Thats like saying a wyoming resident cant drink beer in colorado because they might get drunk and then get lost.

Lowell . - posted 4 years ago on 08-09-2015 09:57:48 pm

you that would have Wyoming drop the nonresident guide requirement. Done much hunting in Alaska? if you don't want to use a guide don't hunt wilderness. We don't want to spend our S&R funds to come and find your lost butts or call your loved ones with the bad news. And I can hear it now (that wont be me) what ever!! Like Alaska, Wyoming wilderness is no place to play bada$$ .

Frank Gryncewicz_890962334311979
Frank G. - posted 4 years ago on 07-29-2015 06:08:27 am
Pickwick Lake Tennessee

Agree with Adam R on the guide requirements. Looked into heading up to Wyoming for white tail hunting believe the nonresident fees are fair "BUT" the guide requirement nixed it for me. No contacts for me up that way for private land. Here in Tennessee our WT don't bulk up like yours do, mild winters here. But more then adequate numbers, so much so that we have a 3 buck limit, and in my and a good portion of the state 3 does a day!! A nonresident license is under $200.00 and that includes a fall turkey as well. Anyone up there want a "hunt swap"? I have a private lease here, not large by your standards but 750 ac here is a good size.

Bob S. - posted 4 years ago on 07-28-2015 07:07:03 pm

Im from northern Minnesota and come out to Wyoming deer and Elk hunting just about every year. Kim and Duce brought up some good ideas and Im going to bring something up that my fellow nonresident Wyoming hunters might hunt me down for saying. The cost of the nonresident left over tags for Mule deer doe and doe Antelope are rediculously low and could be raised. $34.00 each? Come on! Thats crazy low price, to the point you almost feel guilty. Id gladly pay more. Wyoming is an awesome state with awesome hunting opportunities and options and Id hate to see any of that change due to low funding. Just my two cents.

Duce l. - posted 4 years ago on 07-28-2015 02:52:56 pm

Fantastic idea Kim. I know in Converse county we have been paying an extra cent for a couple of years for some projects. This type of tax would enable the Game and Fish to re-engage the public. You are also correct with the feds- if it is mandated by the feds it should be paid for by the feds.

Kim O. White_1190681750957923
Kim O. W. - posted 4 years ago on 07-28-2015 02:37:52 pm

I would like to see the legislature designate a potion of collected sales tax to the Game & Fish commission for its use for operation expense. It is time everybody in Wyoming contributes to the maintainence and operation of the game and fish in the state. There is no way that the game commission can to continue to fund all of the programs that require funding for habitate for Black Footed Ferrets, Grizzly Bears and Wolves. THE PEOPLE OF WYOMING SHOULD NOT BE BEARING THIS BURDEN WITHOUT FINANCIAL HELP FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERMENT TO PAY FOR THESE PROGRAMS

Duce l. - posted 4 years ago on 07-28-2015 04:08:18 am

I don't believe that this task force will get it right. The legislature needs to loosen it's purse strings.

adam r. - posted 4 years ago on 07-27-2015 06:41:22 pm
Lebo, KS

They could get rid of the ridiculous law that requires a guide for nonresident hunters in a wilderness area, for starters!