Wyoming wildlife taskforce takes a deep dive
CHEYENNE, WYO. | By ERIC GALATAS (Public News Service) – The Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce is ready to get to work with eighteen newly-appointed members, including landowners, sportsmen and women, conservationists, legislators and government leaders from across the state.
Their charge is to present recommendations that will be used to support policy decisions on Wyoming’s wildlife resources.
Pete Dube, president of Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commissioners, chairs the effort and promised the task force’s work will be transparent and open to the public.
“It’s not a closed-door process,” Dube confirmed. “The public is welcomed to attend, if it’s through Zoom, to provide comments. Just because you’re not on the task force doesn’t mean you don’t have any input.”
One main focus will be to determine how hunting licenses for big game will be distributed, and what fee adjustments might be needed.
Dube said he expects robust discussion over how many licenses are granted to out-of-state residents drawn to Wyoming’s world-renowned hunting fields. In addition to paying higher license fees, non-residents spend money at outfitting businesses, hotels and restaurants and are seen as essential for local economies.
Joshua Coursey, president/CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation and a task force appointee, said it is understandable Wyoming residents will push to “take care of our own” and limit the number of non-resident licenses.
But he added it’s important to consider how those revenues help support wildlife management across the state.
“Wyoming Game and Fish Department does not receive any money from the legislative body or from the general fund,” Coursey explained. “Their budget is primarily made up by license sales, and the non-residents, they certainly play a role.”
Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Dube said the task force will spend the first several months digging deeper into the complex issues, so when meetings begin in-person, all members will be fully up to speed.
Dube said he’s hopeful the monthly meetings, which will span the course of one year, can begin in early summer.
Disclosure: Muley Fanatic Foundation contributes to Public News Service’s fund for reporting on Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness.