SHERIDAN — A committee of the Wyoming Legislature voted to move a bill to the 2018 regular legislative session that will prohibit the sale of wildlife location information.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department chief game warden Brian Nesvik said it will move to the session as a Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee bill.
Nesvik said the issue arose because individuals have located deer and other big trophy class animals, taken photos of them, collected their GPS locations and sold the locations to scouting services, which also provide additional services to help hunters find the animals during hunting season.
“The reason people are concerned about that is that they’ve articulated that they believe it’s not fair chase, it’s not good ethical hunting to basically go on the internet, pick out a big deer…and then purchase the location and services to go find that big deer,” Nesvik said.
According to the bill’s draft, location information includes location through a coordinate system as well as maps, drawings, illustrations or other documents that show the animal’s location.
Violators of the law if it passes would be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Nesvik said selling locations is especially a problem in the western part of the state like in the Wyoming Range but to some extent has been a problem in the Wind River Rang, as well.
He said it’s concerning for deer in the western regions because they migrate to higher elevation and remain in one general location for a while.
Sheridan Region WGFD public information specialist Bud Stewart said this hasn’t been a problem in the Bighorn National Forest.
However, he said other GPS practices have been helpful for hunters. Stewart said the use of GPS systems help hunters to identify whether they’re on private land. He said it helps hunters stay legal so there are fewer trespassing issues.
Stewart added that there are a few minor changes to 2017’s hunting regulations.
These changes include reduced antelope license quotas in hunt areas 22 and 102 due to low numbers of antelope in the areas, an increase of 50 white-tailed deer licenses in hunt area 23/26 and changes to elk license quotas and season lengths.
Type four antlerless moose licenses will not be available over the next few years for hunt area 34 due to the WGFD’s moose study, which involves collaring 60 cow moose. The type one license will be issued.
Additionally, hunt area 3 fall season for turkey hunting begins Sept. 1 and the hunting seasons for gray partridge and chukar partridge will open Sept. 15.