Cheyenne – The 2018 Wyoming Legislature passed several bills that will make changes to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department laws and regulations. Many of these bills have an impact on the public, too. The following is a summary of Game and Fish-related bills that passed, how they will impact the public and the next steps for implementation. Game and Fish will continue to provide updates as these changes move through the regulation proposal process.
Wildlife conservation license plates (HB0039)
With the passage of this bill, the public will have the option to purchase a new wildlife-themed license plate that provides funding to a wildlife conservation account within the state highway fund. This account is managed by the Wyoming Department of Transportation, and in collaboration with Game and Fish, be used for wildlife conservation efforts related to the transportation system, including signage, wildlife corridors, wildlife crossings and fencing. The program will discontinue unless at least 1000 sets of these license plates are issued prior to December 31, 2023. The cost of the license plate would be $150 and will be available beginning Jan. 1, 2019. An annual fee of $50 will be charged to retain eligibility for a wildlife conservation plate.
Hunting colors – fluorescent pink (SF0061)
The hunting colors bills allows for hunters to wear either fluorescent pink or fluorescent orange while hunting outside of a special archery season. Guidance on how to wear the new fluorescent pink will be available on the Game and Fish website. The Game and Fish Commission will update regulations to align with this change, which will include a public comment period, but the Department is planning to make this change effective for the 2018 fall hunting season.
Game and fish licenses (SF0058)
The Game and Fish licenses bill allows the Game and Fish Commission to set the expiration dates for hunting and fishing licenses instead of having it done in law. One result is that Game and Fish Commission can allow for licenses to be valid for 365 days from the date of purchase rather than just a calendar year. This bill also allows the Commission to set the application date for the reservation of full price, limited quota big and trophy game licenses unable to be used for
good cause. The Commission is required to pass regulations to align with this change, which will include a public comment period by January 1, 2019.
Yellowstone wildlife conservation fee (HJ0005)
This joint resolution requests the United States Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the National Park Service to enter into an agreement with the States of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to impose a wildlife conservation fee at Yellowstone National Park. The resolution asks that the agreement include a provision directing the revenue collected from the fee be transferred back to these states for wildlife conservation efforts. As a resolution, the Game and Fish does not have any next steps to take at this time.
Antelope Hunting Licenses (SF0003)
The Antelope Hunting Licenses bill allows the Commission to issue up to 160 antelope
licenses each year reserved for no more than two antelope hunts, and limits a maximum of 80 licenses for a single hunting event. The number of licenses available for these antelope hunts may be affected by resource management requirements and could impact the total amount of licenses issued each year. This is effective immediately; however, the Game and Fish Commission will update regulations to align with this change, which will include a public comment period.
Purchase of water rights and faculties (HB0066)
Through this bill, the Wyoming Water Development Commission is able to acquire more water storage capacity in Lake DeSmet and land at Healy Reservoir. This transaction will enable Game and Fish to enter into long-term agreements with the Water Development Commission to develop better public recreation facilities-like outhouses and boat ramps and enhance fishing opportunities at Healy reservoir. This bill creates Wyoming Statute 99-1-601 and 99-1-602 to authorize the Lake DeSmet Reservoir project, which involves the purchase of water storage capacity at Lake Desmet and approximately 445 acres of land containing Healy Reservoir, the Clear Creek diversion structure and pumping facilities.
2018 Large funding projects (SF0069)
The Large Funding projects bill approves the funding for significant wildlife and habitat projects for 2018. This funding comes from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust Fund and several involve partnerships with Game and Fish.
Game animals licenses-limitations (HB0058)
This bill amends existing law to Wyoming Statute 23-1-703 (c) that authorizes the Game and Fish Commission to create regulations on issuing of grizzly bear and mountain goat licenses. Currently, these licenses are only available once-in-a-lifetime. However there are some hunt areas in Wyoming where hunters are still needed for management but chances of harvest are very low. This change would allow for the Commission to consider if a hunter who obtains a license in these areas would be subject to the once-in-a-lifetime rule. This is effective immediately; however, the Game and Fish Commission will update regulations to align with this change, which will include a public comment period.
Research and wildlife information – confidentiality (HB0006)
The Research and wildlife information bill amends existing Wyoming Statute 16-4-203. This bill allows Game and Fish to protect sensitive wildlife location data. This is data that might determine the specific location of an individual animal or a group of animals. This is effective July 1.