Overview of Wyoming’s license fee changes for 2018
Wyoming Game and Fish Department will increase the cost of license fees, application fees and preference point fees in 2018. The increase in fees is a result of the Wyoming Legislature voting to reduce the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's budget by six million dollars in 2018 and to maintain funding for fish and wildlife at current levels.
The biggest changes for 2018 are for bison, moose, and increases in cost for elk, antelope and deer Special draw permits. Nonresident tags for mountain goat and bighorn sheep increased slightly, as did the Regular draw tags for elk, deer, and antelope. I'll briefly cover these changes below. Since application season is here, for a detailed breakdown of Wyoming elk, draw odds, and other statistics you can check out the recently published Application Strategy article here.
Nonresident bison increased from $2,522 to $4,417, while nonresident cow/calf tags went from $1,000 to $2,767. Wyoming’s price increase could be considered dramatic when compared with neighboring Montana’s $1,250 bison tag. On the other hand, South Dakota charges $6,006 to hunt trophy bison in Custer State Park, while Arizona gets $5,400 plus the hunting license fee, and Utah charges $2,615 to hunt bulls on Antelope Island, and $1,518 to hunt them in the rest of the state.
Nonresident Shiras moose tags increased from $1,430 to $1,997. Montana charges $1,250 and Idaho gets $2,101 plus a $154.75 nonresident hunting license.
The biggest change for this year for nonresidents interested in hunting elk is the increase in the special license from $1,085 to $1,335. The standard elk license also increased from $605 to $707. This change is enough that I think most nonresidents considering entering the Special draw will bank their points for another two or three years and apply for the Regular draw elk tag. Though this strategy may not pay off in the long run. The only state that has a more expensive elk tag is the Utah multi-season limited entry at $1,505.
Nonresident Special draw deer licenses increased by 17% from $580 to $677 in 2018. Regular draw deer licenses increased slightly from $340 to $389. Youth nonresident deer licenses did not have an increase.
Antelope nonresident Special draw licenses increased from $540 to $629. Regular draw antelope licenses increased from $300 to $341. Like nonresident youth deer, the nonresident youth antelope did not see an increase.
There will be other smaller increases in Wyoming. Bighorn sheep licenses went up to $2,335, an increase of $69. Nonresident annual fishing went up to $102. Nonresident black bear increased to $373. Gray Wolf permits went up by $7 to $187. Nonresident mountain goat tags increased to $2,177.
Resident licenses saw increases by $5 per species or license type.
The big surprises for these 2018 license fee increases are that bighorn sheep only had a small raise, while moose and bison had huge increases in price as well as a large spike in Special draw elk license price. Now that Wyoming’s bison prices are almost as high as Arizona and neighboring South Dakota, I think a lot of people will be priced out of the draw, and it may increase the odds of drawing a bison tag. The increase in the price of moose and Special draw elk will probably lead to more people just buying points.
Only time will tell if applications trends continue to climb or if hunters look elsewhere.