Skip to Content

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

Landowner licenses: Landowner license applications and quotas among topics of discussion at public meeting

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission held its bimonthly meeting Jan. 16-17 at the headquarters in Cheyenne. The meeting was open to the public and addressed a range of important matters including statewide mule deer projects and predator control funding to chronic wasting disease and wildlife crossings. 

Also on the agenda was the highly-discussed topic of resident and nonresident landowner license applications and quotas, a recommendation made by the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force.

Background information 

Rick King, chief of the commission’s Wildlife Division, began the discussion by providing some background information on the topic of landowner licenses. 

“To step way back – in fact,  75 years ago to 1949 – the commission asked for regulation allowing for the issuance of landowner licenses,” King recalled. 

He continued, “The original language in the regulation from 1949 says, ‘In any area opened under special permit for the taking of big game animals other than moose, antelope and mountain sheep, ranchers living within the designated area may be given a special permit upon application without participating in a draw for said permits.’”

King noted over time, the commission has changed and revised this regulation, and more recently, the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force has started discussing resident and nonresident landowner license applications and quotas. 

“Over the last several commission meetings, we’ve had the chance to talk about landowner licenses and other recommendations made by the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force,” King stated. “We talked in July, September and November, and in November, we got some pretty clear marching orders to come back to the March meeting with further information.” 

“But, in the November meeting, we told you, based on an informal opinion, there wasn’t a way for us to implement a landowner license application based on the way the statute reads,” he added. “Since that time, we have had further discussion, and we think there is some ambiguity about whether we can or cannot.” 

Considering all factors

After King’s initial statement, the commission opened the topic up for public comment and further discussion. 

Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna was in attendance and addressed the commission. 

“As I look at the recommendations made by the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force to put a cap on landowner licenses, I think there is a lot more information we need to deliberately decide what might be an appropriate course of action – if any,” Magagna said. 

Before making a final decision, Magagna urged the commission to look into the percentage of landowners eligible for licenses who actually take advantage of them, the rate of annual participation in the program, what species most licenses are granted for and the typical size of acreage owned by landowners who utilize tags.

“As I recall, the proposal we made to the task force was a minimum acreage of 1,000 acres, and as I consider it a little more, I still stand by this number for rangelands,” he said. “But, the case of cropland is a very different situation and should possibly be dealt with separately.” 

Another consideration Magagna brought up to the commission is the opportunity for long-term ranch employees to utilize landowner licenses as well. 

The final, resounding consideration, proposed by both Magagna and King, is to protect meaningful relationships between the ranching community and the commission. 

“I think it is important to point out our relationships with landowners is absolutely critical,” King said. “One-half of our state is private property, which provides an abundance of high-quality habitat for Wyoming wildlife. We enjoy strong relationships with our landowner community, and I think it is very important for us to consider as we talk through any changes that might be made here.” 

Magagna agreed, “I would offer the need to be deliberate and thoughtful as Mr. King mentioned. In general, the relationship between the ranching and agriculture community and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is about the strongest I can ever recall in my lifetime, and I think it is really critical to move forward in a way that doesn’t put this at risk.” 

Commissioners thanked King and Magagna for their insight, and upon further discussion, decided more information was in fact needed to make a final decision. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

Back to top