By Mark Heinz, outdoors reporter
Legislators looking to clarify prohibitions on the use of drones for hunting, as well as trespass laws related to hunting this week.
Wyoming legislators plan this week to consider making sure drones are included in the legal definition of “aircraft” forbidden for scouting or hunting game animal.
There’s also a possible revision of trespass laws, and numerous other items related to hunting and wildlife management.
Judiciary Committee: Drones, Trespass
Whether to add “unmanned aerial vehicles” to the definition of “aircraft” prohibited for hunting or scouting game is among matters coming before the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee early Tuesday.
The committee meets Monday and Tuesday in Casper. The full agenda is available here.
Aerial scouting and the use of aircraft to hunt or harass game animals is already illegal in Wyoming; a draft Wyoming House bill would add a paragraph of clarifying language. The paragraph includes the wording “unmanned aerial vehicles”.
The use of drones, particularly to find big game animals, has been a grey area in hunting ethics nationwide as the machines gained popularity.
The Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) – a premier fair chase and big game trophy hunting organization – came down solidly against drones. B&C in 2014 ruled to refuse accepting into its record books any animals taken with assistance of drones, according to the club’s website.
In related matters, the Judiciary Committee will consider draft bills dealing with whether drones intrude on people’s privacy, and whether civilians may fly drones over prisons.
The committee will also consider a draft bill clarifying the definition of trespassing as it relates to “traveling through” private land while hunting. The draft said, “’travel through’ requires physically touching or driving on the surface of the private property.”
Game and Fish Commission: Wasting Disease, Elk Hunting Licenses
Updates on the status of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and possible changes to elk hunting license allocations will go before the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
The commission is the policy-making board for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
The commission meets Tuesday and Wednesday in Buffalo. Links to the agenda, and to join the meeting via Zoom, are available here.
CWD is a lethal nervous system and brain disease that is spreading among Wyoming wildlife, particularly mule deer. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department made it mandatory this year for hunters’ deer kills to be tested for CWD in several hunt areas.
Among other items, the commission will hear about an updated timeline for possible changes regarding elk hunting tag allocations.
Wildlife Task Force: Preference Points And Hunting Technology
The Wyoming Wildlife Task Force will consider technology’s effects on hunting and preference points systems for hunting licenses, among other things, when it meets Friday in Casper. Links to the agenda, and to join the meeting via Zoom, can be found here.
The task force has no decision-making authority. It was formed as an advisory board charged with studying high-priority wildlife management topics, public access for hunters, and other matters. It will present its conclusions to the Game and Fish Commission and Governor’s Office.
A presentation on hunting technology is set for 9 a.m. There will also be a discussion on whether non-resident hunters should be allowed to purchase additional “preference points” when applying for Wyoming hunting tags. Those points could increase non-residents’ odds of drawing future deer, elk or antelope hunting tags.