Selective Wild Game Licensing Shifting Primarily to Wyoming Tags in 2023 | Local News

SHERIDAN — By fall 2023, 90% of Wyoming’s bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, grizzly bear and wild bison licenses will be issued to Wyoming residents. Only 10% will be granted to non-resident hunters.

This change, along with a one-time additional provision for similar hunts, is the result of months of work by the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force and state legislators, who approved the changes in the 2022 legislative session.

“What (House Enrolled Act 43) does is establish a new license quota allocation for bighorn sheep, moose, wild bison, mountain goat and grizzly bear,” said Sara DiRienzo. , public information officer for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The licensing change will affect resident and non-resident hunters of grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wild bison and moose and impose lifetime restrictions on bighorn sheep, wild bison and moose. Because it goes into effect July 1 and the WGFD has until January 1, 2023 to ensure full implementation, the changes won’t affect hunters this fall.

“The new allocation is that 90% of available licenses will go to residents and 10% will be allocated to non-residents. Previously, most of these species had an 80/20 ratio,” DiRienzo explained. “This bill came about because there was a continued increase in demand for these particular species, and it’s a topic that has been investigated by the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce.”

The Wildlife Task Force was convened by Governor Mark Gordon to study priority wildlife policy issues facing the state with respect to the allocation of hunting opportunities, sporting access and other problems. The task force, comprised of athletes, elected officials, and other stakeholders, presents its findings and recommendations to the Wyoming Legislature, Game and Fish Commission, and Governor to support decision-making about the Wyoming’s wildlife resources. Wyoming.

Although grizzly bear hunting is currently not permitted due to the animal‘s status on the endangered species list, it has been included in legislation in case such hunts are permitted.

“We’ve had the authority before under Game and Fish to proceed with a grizzly bear hunt, and if that opportunity arises again, we’re prepared for it,” DiRienzo said.

Joe Schaffer, a task force member, Laramie County sportsman and president of Laramie County Community College, told lawmakers the group faces two big challenges. The first was that Wyoming’s coveted game species dwindled in population.

“I think one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is really understanding and trying to deal with…these big five species,” Schaffer said. “In many of our species, those numbers are going down. The opportunity that existed 20 years ago was not the one we have today.

The initial design of how people applied for and received permits was based on a concept that supply and demand would be stable, he said.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a significant increase in demand and a decrease in supply for these animals,” Schaffer said. “The upshot of that is that the idea that we could give every person who wanted the opportunity to hunt one of these animals is just not the reality today. There’s just no no system or way to do it.”

Schaffer said the wildlife task force has also recommended fully funding the Wildlife Trust Fund for habitat assistance to help numbers rise.

The other issue, he said, was fairness, and during those discussions the task force decided to recommend increasing the number of resident licensing awards.

A 90/10 allowance, he said, is already the norm in most Western states.

“One of the things we don’t want to lose is that many people are choosing to live, work and raise their families in Wyoming because of the opportunities that exist with our current exterior, and those are those people who will benefit,” says Schaffer. “For my daughter, the likelihood of her drawing a sheep tag will increase.”

About the once-in-a-lifetime disposition, Schaffer said the current system sometimes allows people to hunt these species multiple times.

“If we have people who never get the chance, it’s probably not the fairest thing to have someone who gets the chance to do it once, twice and sometimes three or four times” , did he declare.

The once-in-a-lifetime provision applies to mature male bighorn sheep, moose and wild bison, and current restrictions on mountain goats and grizzly bears continue, DiRienzo explained.

Previously, hunters could, after a waiting period, resume applying for these types of permits.

“It evens the playing field, so more people have a chance to participate in these remarkable bighorn sheep-like hunts,” DiRienzo said.

The law comes into force on July 1 this year and the WGFD has until January 1, 2023 to ensure its full implementation. Between July and January, the WGFD will ensure its licensing systems are programmed to conduct draws differently and will also present the regulations to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in September.

“If you’re applying for any of these species, keep applying,” DiRienzo advised hunters hoping to get one of these permits in the fall of 2022.

“If you draw, it counts as once in your life,” she said.

For hunters who are in a five-year waiting period, the change will not affect their preference points, as points cannot accumulate during this waiting period. For hunters who have obtained a license in the last five years, even if they have not harvested an animal, the new law will count this as the single ram sheep, any bighorn sheep, any antler moose or any wild animal. bison.

“If you’ve had a permit in the last five years, but haven’t harvested any of these species, that counts as once in your lifetime,” DiRienzo said.

The change in the allocation of licenses, and how they are distributed, has no effect on WGFD’s wildlife management, DiRienzo said.

“The licenses still exist,” she said. “Suppose we have 10 licenses for a species. When we change the assignment, we still have 10 licenses available. We hope 10 animals will still be harvested as we always would. It’s just the license that goes to a resident.

The WGFD assesses the population within any species and compares it to its target. Hunting is how they make the difference.

“We always try to achieve that goal on the landscape, and we go through that process of defining the seasons every year,” DiRienzo said. “This process helps us gauge how many licenses to offer each year.”

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