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Location: VA
Joined: 10/02/2007
Posts: 5
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

Wyoming Game and Fish doesn't allow the non-resident to hunt big game on federal wilderness areas without a licensed guide, yet the resident can. It is simply unconstitutional to discriminate between resident and non-resident hunters in terms of access. We should all have equal access opportunities on our federal public lands.

I just recently returned from a self-guided elk hunt in Wyoming. Before making the trip I thoroughly researched the hunting units that are available to a non-resident. Utilizing google earth, purchased maps, study of harvest data, discussions with game biologist and USFS rangers, I developed a keen understanding of multiple areas to hunt. From the beginning, I questioned the Game and Fish representatives about the guide requirement on wilderness areas. Not a single employee new of a ticket written to a non-resident for hunting on wilderness without a guide. We even joked that I would meet a game warden on opening day at the wilderness boundary to be the first. Despite my initial disgust for not being allowed to hunt on our national wilderness areas, I quizzed the biologists and studied the harvest data to determine some good alternative places to start. Having a BS in wildlife management and being a seasoned archery elk hunter, I new what to look for in a hunting area. I studied and generate numbers like bulls harvested per square mile, elk density estimates, utilize past telemetry studies, etc. To make a long story short, I paid outrageous fees, and found few elk to speak of. I hunted the best USFS land in Greys River, units west of Gros Ventre, the head of the Wind River, even the Sierra Madre and found few elk number and poor herd structure. I wanted to venture into the wilderness areas for it was all around me in the Jackson area, however we didn’t risk it for my father is a State wildlife biologist. Essentially I paid the full license fee, feed grounds fee, conservation stamp, archery permit, and was not able to hunt the best public land elk habitat around the Jackson area.

In a court case filled against Wyoming Game and Fish which was dismissed, I noticed a reference about delineation of hunting units and that the unit in question had both wilderness and USFS land in it. However, the court didn’t recognize that game animals are not evenly dispersed across a hunting unit. Rather, typically 90% of game can only be found in 10% of the habitat for a given time and season. For example, the best summer and early fall range for the Jackson elk herd is found on the wilderness areas, hence creating a privileged situation for the resident and licensed guide. And to add to it, the USFS is continuing to annex more federal land under wilderness jurisdiction. This is great for many forms of public recreation, however it further limits access for the non-resident hunter in Wyoming. The guides are sure happy. Question: There might be a Wyoming state law that guarantees no net loss of hunting land. Would this apply for the non-resident?

The state has been granted the authority to manage the wildlife resources within their borders. For game animals, they regulate hunting periods, harvest method, harvest number and allowable take all within a location or unit. However, Wyoming has taken it a step further towards the end of marketing wildlife resources for capital gains and even further by regulating access by participating license holders on federal lands. If a non-resident pays an inflated fee to gain a license then we should have equal rights as the resident. Isn’t this why the state can justify the inflated rate, since the non-resident provides little towards the state tax base. Once we buy a license, we have a tag, the tag that gives us the privilege to hunt game within that state. So when the state doesn’t allow equal access, it is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The USFS controls access to federal lands, not the Game and Fish. With an agenda to support the local guide services, the WGF has stepped out of its given rights to manage wildlife resources. Rather they are supporting private enterprise at the expense of the non-resident and potentially wildlife resources .

I’m just an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, but I have many questions. Does USFS support the access laws that WGF have adopted? Is there a precedent in other states where non-residences have equal rights to access wilderness areas? Idaho, Montana, Colorado. What is the relationship between the Wyoming guide association and WGF. Is wilderness access a regulation or law and was it passed by the state legislature?

I don’t have the funds to start making legal cases. However, I do have the time to start making these issues more aware to the public. The key to change is public support. While working for Idaho Game and Fish and Virginia Dept of Game and Fish, I learned that the public majority dictates laws and regulations. I feel that the more hunters know, we will begin to see an outcry of support for equal access and potentially fair licensing allocation. If you have any comments they will be greatly appreciated.

Best Regards,

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Location: Kentucky/ Colorado
Joined: 06/23/2005
Posts: 1747
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

I agree with you 100% and think this Law stinks! I would love to see this law get overturned. I have heard over the years that the back country horseman association has wanted to push this and try to get it overturned.

Quote:
Does USFS support the access laws that WGF have adopted?

I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter one way or the other as it's Wyomings Law and USFS doesn't have any say, at least that I'm aware of.

Quote:
Is there a precedent in other states where non-residences have equal rights to access wilderness areas? Idaho, Montana, Colorado.

I pretty sure, almost positive, Wyoming is the only state that has this kind of law.

Quote:
Is wilderness access a regulation or law and was it passed by the state legislature?

From what I understand, Yes.

tim
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Location: north idaho
Joined: 06/11/2004
Posts: 612
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

come hunt in idaho. We have more designated wilderness than wyoming and there is no law saying you have to hire a guide for designated wilderness.

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Location: Sandhills of Nebraska
Joined: 08/03/2006
Posts: 49
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

I couldn't agree more with expressed opinion on this matter. I am from Nebraska, in our state, outfitters are not allowed to guide on state controlled wildlife areas.

tim
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Location: north idaho
Joined: 06/11/2004
Posts: 612
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

wyoming isn't the only state that does this. Alaska does the same thing, but it is with the different game animals versus wyomings land designation.

in alaska, to hunt sheep, goat, or griz(brown) bear you need a guide, but the guide doesn't have to be a resident. figure that one out. lol

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

These laws are on the books to benefit the local guide business. But they are also there to limit the amount of money spent on search and rescue. Some communities like what jackson was when the law was enacted could not even start to afford to pay for massive search & rescue operation.

You may be a very talented back country individule. But most out of state hunters are not familar with the risk involved in hutning the wilderness, camping amonst grizzlies, and sudden early winter storms at high elevations.

It's hard to fault the locals for not wanted to pay more taxes for services needed by out of staters.

Todays technology minimizes some of these concerns. Sat phones, GPS allow us to call for help and tell rescuers exactly where to look. But I still bet most hunters don't carry a sat phone.

It's distastefull to non--residents. I refuse to hire a guide, So I don't hunt those areas. But I've been successful hunting in Wyoming in areas near the boundry. It's just something I've accepted and worked around.

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Location: michigan
Joined: 10/07/2007
Posts: 1
wyoming wilderness guide requirement

This law is complete BUNK! First of all Wyoming only has 550,000 people in the entire state, so the TAX money that runs and regulates those federal properties, are FEDERAL, meaning they come from ALL OF US NATIONWIDE! It is legalized discrimination by the state! They want us to give their guides our money... PLAIN AND SIMPLE! You were nearly mega lottery lucky to even draw that tag in the first place, as I have NEVER drawn a wyoming tag, anywhere that is considered a good place to hunt in that state. As a matter of fact I just got back last night from wyoming, and spent my $550 (TAG AND STAMPS) to see some trophy moose and mule deer... NO ELK! Let me know where to sign up to help get this law repealed!

wyoelkhunter's picture
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Location: wyoming
Joined: 10/08/2007
Posts: 77
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

One way to get around the law on non residents in the wilderness is to have a resident get a friends and family guide permit. The resident can take 2 people with him, cannot accept money and the permit is fairly cheep 10 or 15 dollars.

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Location: VA
Joined: 10/02/2007
Posts: 5
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

It is not a question of search and rescue funding, for all other non-resident recreational activities are allowed, rather promoted. As a non-resident, I can hike, backpack, camp, wildlife watch, fish !!!, horseback ride, skiing, all over the Wyoming wilderness, but not hunt. Please, in reality you can drive to the boundary of all these wilderness areas and they are covered in trails. In terms of vastness, none rival the magnitude of Idaho’s wilderness areas. Irregardless, it is discriminating to police hunting access against non-residents on our federal lands.

Ssp
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Location: North Idaho, Steve
Joined: 07/14/2006
Posts: 48
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

I also agree. As for Alaska, you have to use a guide for hunts that are concidered dangerous, brown bear, moose, ect. as for the sheep and goat I've been told that it is due to the hazards of the type of country you are hunting. Even then it is disciminating against the non resident who is capable of such a hunt. In fact there are many who are more qualified than the guides they have to hire. As for search and rescue, I'm sure they see an increase during the hunting season but I still don't see that as the real issue, I've heard of many lost hunters/backpackers who have had to use there insurance to pay for such rescues and also that most search and rescue units are federally funded anyways and we all pay for that.
I don't know for sure in Wyoming but I bet that the guides are paying more to the state than the average nonresident. money, money, money!!!
For the Idahoans, look closely at our own wonderful state. I don't think we will see this exact issue come up any time soon, but what do you think is happening here? More closed trails and roads every year?? limiting the access and pushing hunters together, sound familiar. Contact f&g and you will learn that the biggist push and support for many of these closures is being made by the guides. This gives them more area to get to with less pressure. More outfitters and growing outfitters,= supply and demand. I can still hike 5 miles into these areas to hunt, but not responsilbly. None of us can pack out an elk on our backs in Septembers normal 80+ degree weather and gaurantee no loss of meat. The thing that kills me in Idaho is that (according to f&g) over 70% of the guides in idaho are non residents and they are allowed to use atv's, motorcycles, ect to set up camps, drop off clients and remove downed game in the areas that I, as a resident cannot!!

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Location: Nebraska
Joined: 10/12/2007
Posts: 167
OUTCRY FOR EQUAL ACCESS HUNTING ON FEDERAL LAND IN WY

I feel your pain. I hunt Colorado. We buy over the counter tags and I always like to give the permit agents a hard time about why it cost me 500 to hunt on the same nat'l forest that a Colorado res. can hunt for 30. The response is always that the land belongs to the federal gov't and the elk (other animals) belong to the state of Colorado. My response is always " good I have been nervous all the way here about what I was going to do if I had to chase an elk into Wyoming and now that I know that elk belongs to Colorado I'm sure the Wyoming game and fish will understand when I kill it across the state line." My point being is my tax dollars are paying for the nat'l forest too which is feeding the wildlife that Colorado claims to own. If that is the case so be it but the federal gov't charges ranchers to graze cattle and sheep on this land why not charge the state for feeding their animals too. Sorry to carry on but, had to get that off my chest. On that thoght I gotta get some stuff packed we leave in 6 more days.

Bull Buster

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