A bill pending in the Wyoming Legislature would dramatically hike fees for nonresident hunters wanting to get first crack at some coveted Cowboy State hunting tags.
Another bill would broaden the authority of Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens to go after trespassing hunters.
Pricey Hunting Tag First Dibs
Prices for nonresident elk, deer and antelope tags should be split into two tiers, according to Senate File 60.
The split would be 60-40. The 40% would be reserved for “special draw,” or for hunters willing to pay more to have better odds of drawing the tags they want.
Many big game hunt areas in Wyoming are for draw tags. That means hunters must apply early and prepay for their tags – usually in May – to enter drawings for a limited number of tags. Hunters who fail to draw their tags will have their money refunded, minus an application fee.
For those first-in-line 40% of nonresidents, fees would jump nearly 118% from $576 to $1,258 for elk tags. Prices would go from $288 to $826 for deer (a 187% jump) and from $288 to $874 for antelope, the largest hike at 203%.
The other 60% of nonresident tags would remain at the original prices.
Proponents of the measure claim it will bring Wyoming’s nonresident hunting tag prices more in line with regional market values. But others worry that it could price average, working-class nonresidents out of hunting in Wyoming.
More Authority For Wardens
Under SF 46, Game and Fish wardens would be given authority to pursue trespassing cases they now cannot.
Under current Wyoming law, hunting trespass is a separate offence from criminal trespass. Wardens my detain people suspected of the former, but not the latter. Only sheriff’s deputies can investigate criminal trespass and issue tickets for it.
If there is direct evidence of only criminal trespass and it’s not tied to hunting, fishing, trapping or shed antler hunting, wardens must call and wait for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive.
If the bill passes and is signed into law, Wardens could investigate and possibly ticket cases in which people are suspected of crossing a section of private property with the intent of hunting on adjacent public land. They wouldn’t have to wait for a deputy.
Backers of the measure claim it will free up game wardens and deputies. Detractors say it is too arbitrary, claiming that somebody could be ticketed for simply having firearms or fishing tackle in their vehicle, even if they weren’t planning on hunting or fishing that day.