Game and Fish bills create hunting opportunities

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SHERIDAN — This legislative session includes a number of bills that will change the game when it comes to hunting and fishing. Though many include only slight changes, some proposed will help out both resident and nonresident hunters, as well as require the reorganization from Game and Fish.

House Bill 0130 deals with the harvest of trophy game and furbearing animals. This session it’s been added that 90 percent of mountain lion licenses will be reserved for resident hunters.

Game and Fish Regional Wildlife Supervisor Craig Smith said if this passes, it will change how Game and Fish manages mountain lion harvests. Currently, they’re managed through a quota, meaning hunters are free to hunt in a range until a certain number of female mountain lions are harvested. Once that happens, the season is over for that area.

“We would have to develop a different system in order to allocate licenses,” Smith said, “rather than base it on amount of harvest.”

He said one example of how it could be reworked is to have sub-quotas in hunt areas. For example, if 32 female lions are the quota in an area, Game and Fish would allow 90 percent of that to residents and 10 percent to non-residents, resulting in roughly 29 and three lions, respectively.

The bill has been introduced and placed on General File.

If passed, Senate File 0060 will help female antelope hunters obtain licenses. Senator James Anderson said the addition of 80 licenses for a single one-shot antelope hunt is to allow for the women’s antelope hunt.

“The reason is they have the hunt in (Sheridan) county right there at Ucross,” Anderson said about the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt. “And they ran out of licenses this year, and they’re increasing their members every year.”

He said under this bill the regular quota will be done and then Game and Fish will add 80 licenses to five hunt areas, which are all on private land.

“The private land owners are giving them the land to hunt on, so those 80 licenses are spread over those five areas,” Anderson said. “So it isn’t too many more antelope per area to do it.”

Wyoming Women’s Foundation hosts the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt, which is in its fifth year running. Wyoming Women’s Foundation Program Associate Rebekah Smith said that if passed, this bill will help bring more opportunities and benefits to Wyoming and female hunters in the state.

“That would be beneficial to us because it would provide predictability and sustainability for our event,” she said.

The bill has passed all three readings in the Senate and was introduced to the House on Jan. 23.

House Bill 0121 will give a financial break to nonresident fishermen if passed. The bill proposes a five-day fishing license for nonresidents at a cost of $48.

Craig Smith said he’s not sure if the price cut will bring in more fishermen from out of state, but he thinks it’s more intended for summer hiking or camping trips when fishermen know they’ll have a block of time.

Currently, he said, the options for a nonresident is to buy a day pass at $14 or an annual pass for $92. He said the five-day license would also be exempt from purchasing the $12 conservation stamp, which is required for both resident and nonresident annual licenses.

House Bill 0121 has been introduced and placed on General File.

By |January 26th, 2017|

About the Author:

Chelsea Coli joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as the county government, business and outdoors reporter. Coli has a master’s in journalism from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before moving to Wyoming, Coli taught English through the LADO International Institute and worked as an intern and copywriter for Ruby Studio in Colombo, Sri Lanka.