Changes of Course, Ways Forward
Unfortunately, Wyoming Untrapped found out this week that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has changed course on its draft regulation for trapping trail setbacks in Teton County. Even though their statement of intent included mention of setbacks on trails in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, no such setbacks are included in the most recent draft. Their draft regulations only include a small closure of Cache Creek on Snow King to furbearer trapping. Essentially, of the 50 trail segments WU requested, only one has been incorporated into the draft regulation. We see this as a major turn of events in a process that thus far had been a positive one, focused on the local issues and needs of Teton County. Unfortunately, state-wide interests demonstrated yet again that Teton County is widely disregarded in Wyoming, and that our tax dollars and contributions to public lands, wildlife, and agencies mean little, if anything to the state.
This doesn’t mean that the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission cannot implement setbacks- they still can. If we all submit enough comments in the public comment period currently open, the Commission could bring the agency back on course in doing what is right for our local community.
We have met with other stakeholders, and in the interest of compromise, have narrowed our list to only 26 trail segments and 2 roads seasonally managed as winter trails. We have also changed our requested setback distance to 300 feet, instead of 500. The trails we are now highlighting are those that are very carefully managed by the Forest Service to separate and accommodate a diverse set of public lands users- areas like Snow King, Teton Pass, and Munger Mountain that literally separate uses like mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. These areas have extremely high non-consumptive use- literally hundreds of people each day, and dozens of dogs. More than ever, this proposal addresses areas where responsible trappers wouldn’t trap anyway, but provides some measure of protection for the pets of non-consumptive users from the traps of less experienced individuals. Recreating on public lands is everyone’s right, and responsible management separates user groups to avoid use conflicts. With millions of visitors each year and a rapidly growing population that uses public lands throughout the shoulder and winter seasons when trapping activity is at its height, this small, simple change accommodates the rights of all public land users in Teton County. Take action now (Public Comment and Petition), urge the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to put wildlife management back on course for Teton County.