By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The sale of special big game hunting licenses raised nearly $1.1 million for wildlife conservation efforts last year, according to the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition.
The funds were generated through the sale of the Wyoming Governor’s complimentary big game licenses. It’s a notable benchmark for the coalition, with license revenues exceeding all prior years of fundraising.
“The record amount of funding raised in 2020 is a clear indication of just how much people value Wyoming’s wildlife,” Gov. Mark Gordon said. “I am grateful for the contributions from hunters for projects that sustain our state’s iconic species, as well as the organizations who put these funds on the ground.”
Each year, the coalition, which is comprised of Wyoming-based wildlife conservation organizations and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is tasked with marketing and selling the governor’s complimentary big game licenses, as authorized by state statute.
These include five bighorn sheep, five moose, 10 deer/elk/antelope and five wild bison licenses.
When licenses are sold the revenue is solely dedicated to wildlife conservation, with 90% of the proceeds going back to the coalition and the remaining 10% staying with the selling organization.
Gordon refined the allocation in 2020 to cut administrative costs, resulting in the availability of an additional $110,000 to dedicate to important on-the-ground work and additional project funding for wildlife.
The coalition allocates the funds for a variety of wildlife conservation projects through committees that focus on wildlife species-specific initiatives: elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose and an all-wildlife committee.
Projects are diverse, including habitat improvements, conservation easements, research and projects to facilitate wildlife movements across roadways.
Outgoing coalition Chairman Justin Binfet of the Game and Fish Department noted the work of the group to market and sell the donated licenses and then disseminate funds is widely supported in the state.
“The Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition is remarkable because it brings a considerable amount of money to the table and has strong support and participation from a diverse group of leading conservation organizations in Wyoming,” Binfet said. “This model, founded under Gov. Freudenthal and continued by Gov. Mead and Gov. Gordon, should be lauded for the considerable resources it has leveraged to support Wyoming’s wildlife.”
Since the group formed in 2003, the Coalition has funded over $9.8 million in conservation projects.