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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

It’s The Right Decision

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) asked for comments by 5 p.m. on July 31 to consider changes to its depredation prevention hunting season policy, and name the Auxiliary Management Hunting Season. 

This issue all started early last spring when ranchers from the Wheatland area gave comments to the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce concerning the large numbers of elk on their private lands. These ranchers were very concerned, as they had to reduce the numbers of cattle grazing in certain pastures on their deeded lands because an overabundance of elk had significantly reduced their forage. 

These ranchers were calling for the WGFD to have depredation hunts in these areas as they had a number of years ago.  

The hunts in the past consisted of simply shooting the elk, which nowadays everyone realizes is not the method to use. The ranchers now are asking the elk meat to go to the hunters or to a food bank.

The auxiliary management policy is very flexible and would do away with a lot of the red tape to help both ranchers and the hunters wanting to be involved. The hunts would be more site specific, have flexible management and not just have one policy for the whole state.

There are a number of areas where some landowners don’t want any hunting on their property, which is their right. The problem is the elk all know these areas and use them as a safe refuge. When the hunting season is over, they are back on the deeded lands they like.

The Laramie Range between Cheyenne and Casper is an area with a lot of elk problems, but there are pockets scattered all over the state with similar issues from all kinds of wildlife. This new policy can deal with those issues. 

I have some issues with section four of the new policy. It currently states, “Department personnel may accompany hunters to accomplish the goals of the auxiliary management hunting season or when other factors require the presence of department personnel with the hunter.” 

I think the WGFD needs to have adequate personnel to really watch over the hunters, or landowners are going to see numerous damages to the fences in the area. Fence damage caused by hunters chasing a herd of elk can be extreme. They just need to be on foot hunting.

There are a number of landowners around who would rather have the elk than the hunters. I have a neighbor this way, and so we have an elk refuge next door and at times have seen over 600 or so elk come through my property in early winter or early spring. 

I also believe the new policy should allow a hunter to sign up and harvest more than one animal if they choose to do so. After all, it is the goal of the new policy to eliminate the large numbers. 

I hope this new policy and the proposed policy on landowner coupons, when implemented and used, will somehow bring ranchers and the WGFD to work together better. It seems I’ve heard of more mistrust and negative outlook between the two factions lately, myself included. I applaud the WGFD for their prompt action on this issue. 

Working together is not too hard; better communication and respect of each other’s values and issues will ease the problems, and it takes both parties to listen and understand each other’s issues. It would sure beat creating another wildlife and livestock issue. 

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