Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce – An Opportunity for Landowners
By Jim Magagna
The Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce’s charge is to study top-priority wildlife policy issues facing the state related to the allocation of hunting opportunity, sportsperson access and other issues. Their goal at the end of an 18-month period is to present conclusions and recommendations to the Wyoming Legislature, Game and Fish Commission and Governor to support decision-making on Wyoming’s wildlife resources.
The taskforce consists of 18 members including state and local elected officials, landowners, outfitters and sportsmen.
To date, the taskforce has identified the allocation of hunting licenses to residents and non-residents, the license point system, landowner license allocation and potential transferability, landowner incentives and public access as among the issues that will be addressed. These are all issues impacting landowners.
The taskforce has held three meetings in Casper, and three additional meeting have been scheduled in Casper for this year on Sep. 1, Nov. 18 and Dec. 3. In addition, groups of taskforce members are scheduling listening sessions across the state. The next scheduled listening session will be held in Gillette at the Campbell County Public Library, Wyoming Room, on July 29 at 6 p.m.
Sessions held to date have had significant input from diverse interests, but notably lack landowner input. It is essential landowners engage through these meetings, in-person or virtually and through the submission of public comment if our interests are to be advanced.
Taskforce members need to have solid information on the essential role landowners play in providing both habitat for wildlife and hunting opportunities. They also need to be made aware of the challenges that landowners face with excess populations of some species, destruction of fences and other range improvements and unauthorized trespass by a minority of hunters.
Landowner comments on wildlife impacts could include answers to the following: What species of big game animals are prevalent on my land, in what numbers and for what periods of time? What percentage of my forage is being consumed by these game animals? What impact do they have on my range improvements?
Comments related to license allocation could include: Do I allow resident hunters on my private land? If so, approximately how many each year? Do I charge an access fee to resident hunters? Do I make my land available to non-resident hunters? If so, do I manage this directly or do I lease my land to an outfitter?
Input regarding landowner licenses is critical and may include: Do I regularly apply for landowner licenses? Are landowner licenses equitably distributed today based on the lack of any relationship to the acreage of habit being provided? Should landowner licenses be transferrable? If so, what limitations or restrictions should be placed on their transferability? What other incentives should be considered to encourage landowners to support game populations and provide hunting opportunities?
Policies, regulations and laws implementing the recommendations of this taskforce will influence big game management, hunting opportunities and landowner relationships for years to come.
I urge every Wyoming agricultural landowner to engage in this process in a timely manner. You will maximize the impact of your input if you are able to supply solid information regarding your current situation and well-reasoned recommendations for change.
For more information or to submit comments, go to Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce website at sites.google.com/wyo.gov/wyomingwildlifetaskforce/home.
Jim Magagna is the executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. For more information, visit wysga.org.