Needs More Study
One of the bills discussed for a short time during this legislative session in Cheyenne was Senate File (SF) 103, which would have raised the number of resident limited quota hunting tags and also raised the price of all hunting tags in the state. It wouldn’t have raised the total number of those limited quota tags, but would have taken half of the non-resident tags and allocated them to resident hunters.
These limited quota tags are for Bighorn sheep, bison, moose, mountain goat, elk, deer and antelope. Currently there is an 80-20 percent split between resident and non-resident hunting tags for antelope, deer, moose and mountain goat. Elk is at an 84-16 percent split.
If the bill were to pass, it would have raised resident hunters to 90 percent and lowered non-residents to 10 percent of the limited draw. Elk, deer and antelope tags are currently regulated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and the rest of the tags are in state statute.
The good news is SF 103 failed in the Senate Travel, Recreational and Wildlife Committee, just as it had in four previous tries in recent years, thanks to five senators with good common-sense this year.
As a landowner, I was against the bill. I felt it hurt myself and other landowners who cater to and welcome non-resident hunters. Non-resident hunters are added income for landowners, and in the past number of years, many have realized this.
Non-resident hunters may employ a licensed guide, which could be the landowner, so they are assured their property will be taken care of and those hunting without permission are dealt with correctly. A non-resident hunter comes to the state knowing they will be spending money – both hunting and in the local community – and are glad to do so.
In my case, I really respect the non-resident hunter. They are always grateful for a place to hunt on private lands and they respect the quality hunt they paid for.
While I do lease my private lands to a licensed outfitter, I also save some private lands for resident hunters and limit the number to provide a quality hunt. But most every year, I find the resident hunter has crossed the boundary and is where they shouldn’t be.
I find the non-resident hunter always recognizes my private lands as a privilege to hunt on and always respects my private land rights.
Don’t get me wrong, there are good resident hunters. But, I always remember the disrespectful one percent who think it is their right to hunt anywhere they want. Some think owning a side by side or ATV gives them the right to hunt anywhere they can go and they really create a problem on the resource. Again, it is the one percent we remember over the winter.
Another reason I was happy to see this bill fail is there are a few issues in the bill need more discussion with more landowners, hunters, outfitters and Wyoming Game and Fish personnel. Gov. Gordon established the Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioners Task Force to discuss issues such as this bill contained. A task force has been formed with private landowners involved – let them do their job.
This task force has a lot of issues to review and change, such a landowner’s coupon issues, cost of hunting licenses and various other issues related to hunting. We thank the governor and commissioners for their work in establishing this task force, as we hope there will be good opportunities for everyone. Landowners do take care of a lot of wildlife.