The 62nd Wyoming Legislative session convenes on Jan. 8. Two bills of importance to Wyoming’s wildlife heritage will come before the Travel, Recreation, and Wildlife & Cultural Resources (TRW) Committee — SF0032 and HB0037.
SF0032 addresses game and fish license fees. This bill amends game and fish license fees by repealing some, decreasing some and increasing most by approximately 20 percent. The bill also provides for an annual increase to fees based on a consumer price index. HB0037 authorizes the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to offer up to two licenses for each big or trophy game animal species in a special license raffle.
Wyoming harbors world-class wildlife resources that attracts millions of visitors and generates approximately $2.9 billion in revenue annually. Wildlife is woven into the very fabric of Wyoming’s culture and economy. In late December, twelve leading sportsmen and wildlife groups came together in a letter to the TRW Committee, urging support for these important bills (see link below). These organizations, which sometimes differ on issues, stand together in support of SF0032 and HB0037. These bills are viewed as critical to not only ensuring adequate funding to maintain the wildlife component of the Wyoming lifestyle but also a dependable long-term revenue source for the Cowboy State.
Steve Kilpatrick, Executive Director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, notes “Our organizations acknowledge the proposed license fee adjustments as necessary and reasonable to help pay for fish and wildlife management programs. It’s a fact that the cost of managing our wildlife resource continues to rise, just as the cost of other goods and services. The proposed wildlife funding bills before the 2013 Legislature are a sound start toward developing a 21st century funding solution.”
Properly managed fish and wildlife programs come at a cost, one that Wyoming citizens are willing to pay for because of the value wildlife returns to Wyoming’s citizens. Kim Floyd, of the Wyoming Federation of Union Sportsmen, states, “In addition to the economic return and job creation, well-managed wildlife populations and habitat provide the backdrop to the high quality of life we all enjoy. Investing in wildlife just seems like a good business practice for the state’s second largest and most stable industry — tourism.”
“It is important that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department continue to have appropriate funding to manage the state’s outstanding fisheries resources both now and in the future,” argues Scott Christy, Wyoming Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “From time to time, fee increases are necessary to keep up with the cost of inflation and the idea that the ‘sticker shock’ associated with such increases can be reduced with indexing is a good one.”
Price indexing has been in place in many other states and is seen as a solid solution to address an on-going problem in Wyoming. Joshua Coursey, founder of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, states, “Hopefully this will alleviate some of the frustrations that often arise when discussing license fee increases. It is time Wyoming follow suit with price indexing... this is smart business.” When asked about the time consuming and costly efforts being put forth to present these needed increases to the public, he emphatically replies, “avoiding this painful process every four to five years will be to everyone’s benefit.”
The support letter from sportsmen and women/wildlife organizations can be viewed at wyomingwildlife.org/ht/d/sp/i/131622/pid/131622.
Additional information about these bills can be found at wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/wgfd-1001229.aspx and wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/wgfd-1000880.aspx.For the complete article see the 01-10-2013 issue.
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