By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
While a state representative from Rock Springs is proud his work spearheading a new law criminalizing bestiality in Wyoming, he said he has no desire to work on the topic further.
The bill proposed by Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs,, which took effect last summer, criminalized the act of bestiality and made it a misdemeanor in Wyoming, one of the few states in the nation prior to 2021 that did not have a law on its books about the act.
“I don’t think in Sweetwater County, or in Wyoming generally, bestiality is a widespread problem,” Stith told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “But it was an anomaly that this was one of the few states in the country with no law on the books for it. I thought it was important to express society’s disapproval in a legal way.”
The bill stemmed from an incident in Rock Springs in the summer of 2020, when a man was found to be sexually abusing horses.
The man’s identity was withheld until formal charges could be filed, but with no bestiality law on the books, there was not much the police could do in the situation.
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jason Mower said at the time that in order for an animal cruelty charged to be pursued, there would have to be evidence that the man physically injured the animals.
“The deputy sheriff spoke to me at a football game and said, ‘Look, this is crazy. We can’t do anything with this guy, we need to change the law,'” Stith said. “As I researched, I thought, ‘Well, that’s just common sense.'”
Stith modeled the bill on the South Dakota law banning bestiality, which he said was “straightforward” and didn’t get overly detailed.
With Wyoming’s enacting of the bestiality ban, it became one of 47 states that has a law on the books about the act. It was not clear if Hawaii, New Mexico and West Virginia have yet passed similar laws.
Stith said bestiality is not fully understood as a pathology, but pointed out it could also be connected to other violent crimes or sexual predation of either children or adults.
Stith also noted that when he brought the bill to the floor to introduce it, the silence from his fellow representatives was deafening.
“Nobody’s going to speak against this,” he said.
He joked that by proposing both the bestiality law and a bill banning the distribution of explicit pictures in an attempt to shame someone — known as “revenge porn” — in the same legislative session, that’s all his friends from law school know him for now.
“I’m not planning on bringing any subsequent bills forward on the topic,” Stith said.