If nonresidents feel burned by having their shed hunting delayed by a week in some Wyoming hot spots, in a few years they might at least have a $10 million shooting complex to enjoy while they wait.
Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday signed into law three outdoors-related bills, which could also affect Wyoming’s tourism.
Shed Hunting Gets Tougher For Nonresidents
House Bill 123 calls for Wyoming residents to get a week-long head start in areas of western Wyoming where the shed-hunting season officially begins at 6 a.m. on May 1.
A related measure, House Bill 276, will require nonresidents over age 15 to purchase a $21.50 Wyoming Conservation stamp before going shed antler hunting here.
Those will both take effect July 1, after the peak of shed hunting season has passed. So, that means nonresidents won’t feel the full effect of the new laws until the 2024 shed hunting season.
Proponents of the measures successfully argued that Wyoming residents in recent years have been increasingly crowded out by mobs of nonresident shed hunters – many of whom are in it for profit. Freshly-shed elk antler can sell in some markets for as much as $20-25 per pound.
Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs remarked during discussion about HB 123 that giving the first week exclusively to residents will give Wyoming families time to enjoy the outdoors together.
Those who criticized the measures noted that growing numbers of nonresident shed hunters have boosted the state’s tourism economy, so Wyoming should be wary about possibly pushing them away.
Shooting Complex On The Horizon?
Gordon also signed Senate File 169, which will get the ball rolling toward a huge, multi-million dollar shooting sports complex to be built somewhere in Wyoming – possibly within about three years.
First, a shooting complex task force will be formed. It will include government officials and members of the public. That board will be charged with mapping out the particulars of the facility, such as its size and what features to include.
The board will also accept applications from municipalities around Wyoming that might be interested in hosting the shooting complex. Each will be given a chance to explain why their community would be the best site for the facility.
It’s hoped the shooting complex will not only be popular with Wyoming residents, but will also draw crowds of tourists by hosting national and international shooting competitions.
$10 Million Will Be Socked Away
To fund the project, $10 million will be set aside. That will include $5 million from the state’s general fund, $2.5 million from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and $2.5 million from the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
That $10 million will sit in a special fund, untouched unless and until plans for the shooting complex and its location come to fruition. And even then, the money can’t be released until the Legislature authorizes it, Hicks explained during earlier discussion of the bill.
In the longer term, maintenance and operations costs for the shooting complex would probably be shared by the municipality it’s built in and private business interests, Hicks said.