WGFD announces hunting regulation updates
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) announced April 18 new changes to laws and regulations impacting hunters, ranchers and the general public. The updates include changes to license allocations, sage grouse game bird farm certifications, hunting license application funds and more.
“Big five” opportunities
On March 9, Gov. Gordon signed bill HB0043, increasing the likelihood for Wyoming residents to obtain a license to hunt the “big five” – Bighorn sheep, bison, moose, mountain goats and grizzly bears.
The bill states it’s “an act relating to game and fish; modifying license allocations for resident and non- resident hunters for grizzly bears, mountain goats, Bighorn sheep, wild bison and moose; imposing life- time restrictions on Big- horn sheep, wild bison and moose; creating exceptions; making conforming amendments; repealing obsolete language; requiring rule making; and providing for effective dates.”
Under the bill, Wyoming residents will have a 90 percent chance at available licenses for the “big five” animals, and out of state hunters will have a 10 percent chance. This is a change from the previous 80 percent and 20 percent.
According to WGFD, the bill also put a five-year waiting period for ewe/lamb Bighorn sheep as well as cow/calf moose and wild bison into order.
The bill states, “No person may apply for and receive more than one cow/ calf moose or one ewe/lamb Bighorn sheep license in any consecutive five year period.”
Hunting license draws for this year will not be effected by these changes, as the bill will not be in effect until July 1.
Game bird farm certifications
WGFD also announced the expiration date for sage grouse game bird farm certifications will be extended five years, ending Dec. 31, 2027. Bill SF0061 brought forth these changes, which was signed by Gordon on March 15.
Permitted Wyoming sage grouse farms actively working to establish a captive sage grouse now have an extended period to do so.
Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna says it’s too early at this point to know if this extension will impact sage grouse populations, but he notes WSGA is anticipating positive outcomes from the bill.
“This is something WSGA strongly supports,” he says. “The research with the private bird farm has been going on the past five years, and it clearly makes sense to continue it because they’ve had recent success in raising sage grouse chicks on their property.”
“We would view this bill as not impacting sage grouse populations now, but should we reach a point where pop- ulations would decline to the point where we’d need new technology, this would help us alleviate the problem,” he continues. “I don’t think it’s at this point yet, but we see no negatives to allowing this effort to continue, and we see potential long-term positive outcomes.”
Hunting license application funds
Bill HB0072 was also signed on March 15, creating a new alternative for hunting license application funds to be donated.
This bill has the potential to increase financial support for Wyoming wildlife conservation and provide more access for hunting and fishing in Wyoming.
The bill is “an act relating to game and fish; providing an option for unsuccessful applicants to contribute a portion of refunded application fees as specified; and providing for an effective date.”
If hunters don’t receive a license, they have the option to donate any portion of their refundable license fees to the Wyoming Wild- life and Natural Resource Trust (WWNRT) Income Account, the WGFD Access Account or both. This option will be available for hunters starting July 1.
Magagna views this bill as a positive for Wyoming ranchers.
“We see some potential positives with this bill,” says Magagna. “If the sportsman is unsuccessful in getting the license he/she applied for and they choose to dedi- cate those funds, or a part of them, to the account which funds AccessYes programs, this means there will be more dollars to reimburse private landowners for pro- viding hunting and fishing access, which is certainly a positive.”
Magagna notes AccessYes has been a suc- cessful program, both for landowners and sportsmen, and the income account is also a great program to give back to.
“WWNRT Income Account is a program WSGA has supported strongly. It provides significant dollars for wildlife habitat improvements and dollars for conservation easements,” he says. “This bill benefits two very worth-while programs.”
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@ wylr.net.