Trapping Reform in Wyoming

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Coexistence

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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has recommended several changes to Chapter 28 Regulation Governing Big or Trophy Game Animal or Game Bird or Gray Wolf Damage Claims and Chapter 34 Auxilary Management Hunting Seasons that warrant careful review and public comment.

Chapter 28 Regulation Governing Big or Trophy Game Animal or Game Bird or Gray Wolf Damage Claims

This regulation is intended to provide damage assistance to agricultural producers who suffer losses due to wildlife depredation, which Wyoming Untrapped supports. However, the Department has proposed changes to this regulation that are manipulating the original intent to increase hunter access and mandate hunting on private property for producers who have suffered losses to be eligible for damage claim compensation.

This means a producer will be required to allow an “Auxiliary Management Hunt” and a “Sufficient Number of Hunters,” a number determined by the Department, access to their privately owned or leased property for their damage claim to be considered. Producers who do not provide this hunting access and hunt opportunity will be denied compensation for their losses.

It has been well documented that increased predator hunting is not a viable long-term solution for livestock depredation; making this a requirement for producers does not alleviate or prevent future damage. Wyoming Untrapped believes that producers should have the option of utilizing nonlethal wildlife coexistence solutions as an alternative to mandated “Auxiliary Management Hunts.” Nonlethal techniques can be effective long-term solutions to depredation and damage caused by wildlife and should be included in this draft regulation as an option for producers who would rather coexist with wildlife than implement an Auxiliary Management Hunt.

Aldo Leopold, the “father of wildlife management,” once said,

“A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than that of onlookers” … “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching—even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

Chapter 34 Auxiliary Management Hunting Seasons

The Department has recommended several changes to this regulation that are of concern, including:

“Section 4. (b) Any hunter who participates in an auxiliary management hunting season and who refuses to take an available animal as directed by Department personnel shall not be allowed to continue to participate in that specific auxiliary management hunt.”

Hunting ethics is one of the first topics covered in Hunter-education in all 50 states. Hunters are taught that if given an opportunity to take a shot at game, it is the hunter’s responsibility to determine if it is an ethical or unethical shot, and while a practice may be legal, one hunter may judge the situation to be unethical while another may believe it to be ethical. According to the Hunter’s Code of Ethics, no person, including Department personnel, should have the authority to direct another hunter to take an animal.

Furthermore, the Department recommends that the responsibility of designating the need for these Auxiliary Management Hunting Seasons be with the Chief Game Warden rather than with the biologists that manage wildlife populations or the Commission that establishes hunting seasons and bag limits. The responsibility of determining the need for these hunts and their impacts on wildlife populations should be with the wildlife biologists and the Commission.

Talking Points

It is usually most effective to be persuasive, but not rude, sarcastic or angry.  Speak from the heart of one who is more inclined to support our Game & Fish Department if and when doing what is best and right for all residents and visitors in Wyoming, now and into the future.  Original words directly from your own heart and mind are more likely to be given consideration than words and phrases that sound scripted.

Focus the energy of your words on wolf hunting, trapping and snaring reform, and the shifting tide to twenty-first-century wildlife management and public tolerance.

How should you say it?

Wrap your own words around a spectrum of reasons that might speak to you:

  • Support nonlethal conflict management options.
    • Policies that allow for lethal control of wolves to resolve wildlife conflicts fail to prevent livestock conflicts from occurring and rather instill a perpetual cycle of killing and devaluing of wolves. There are a variety of conflict avoidance techniques and management policies that the department should require on public lands, including but not limited to retiring grazing allotments with a history of repeated wolf-livestock conflict, removing or rendering inedible carcasses to prevent scavenging and future livestock predation, and increasing livestock monitoring through range riders that can move livestock out of areas where they are vulnerable.
  • There is a higher demand for non-lethal control options for producers in Wyoming according to the Wildlife Services annual report.
    • We ask the Commission to increase non-lethal control options for livestock producers utilizing private lands and require non-lethal control measures be taken as a first measure for producers utilizing public lands. Many coexistence techniques have been proven effective in preventing livestock depredation by wolves. This would result in fewer producers losing livestock, fewer wolves killed for depredation events, and less money paid to producers for depredation events.
  • Hunting Ethics are taught in mandated Hunter Education courses.
    • Ethics cover behavior that has to do with issues of fairness, respect, and responsibility not covered by laws. There are ethical issues that are just between the hunter and nature and vary from person to person and situation to situation. Hunters who take hunter education courses are taught that hunting ethics are up to the individual hunter to assess and determine based on their skill level, comfort, and ethical values at the moment. Hunting Ethics is something the sportsmen community has been working hard to develop and spread to encourage respectful and ethical sportsmanship. No one, including the Department personnel, should have the authority to direct another sportsman to take a shot at an animal if that person does not feel comfortable or feel it is ethical to do so or face punishment if they don’t choose to shoot.
  • The responsibility of determining these auxiliary hunts should be with the wildlife biologists and the Commission.
    • The Department recommends that the responsibility of designating the need for these Auxiliary Management Hunting Seasons be with the Chief Game Warden rather than with the biologists that manage wildlife populations or the Commission that establishes hunting seasons and bag limits. The responsibility of determining the need for these hunts and their impacts on wildlife populations should be with the wildlife biologists and the Commission.
Contact Your Legislators
Contact Game & Fish Commissioners
Contact Game & Fish Department
Contact Governor Gordon

Special thanks to our friends Julia Cook, Kyle Dudgeon, and Julie Argyle for providing wolf photos featured on this page.

3 Comments

  • Lily anderson

    It is of the utmost important that we relearn to coexist with all species. We learned what happens when there are imbalances in nature. They have a far greater right to be here than we do considering our population has steadily risen while theirs has declined. It’s time for balance and respect to come back.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Thank you, Lily. We have copied content which expresses the same. Thanks so much for the support.

      We are building awareness of the critical role beavers play in our ecosystems through film. Scientists have documented the importance of beavers and the habitat they create for decades, yet public awareness of the ecological benefits of beavers is still lacking. In collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and private partners, we will be documenting and monitoring wildlife usage of active beaver dams for 12 months. We will be sharing captured footage with the public and hope the benefits of beavers will be absorbed and spread far and wide.

      Follow our Beaver Dam Cam project for more video moments:https://wyominguntrapped.org/programs/dam-cam

      During this time of climate change awareness and mitigation, it is critical that we look for support from our natural world and shine a light on species that can help us combat the effects we are already experiencing today. Unfortunately, science alone is no longer effective at directing the measurable changes necessary, science now needs the support and voices of the public. Beavers and the wetlands they create can help us and many other species withstand the climate change effects we are already seeing, such as increased wildfires and reductions in late season water resources and streamflow. We simply need to keep beavers on the landscape and allow them to do what they do naturally.

      WE NEED YOUR HELP TO CHANGE THIS NARRATIVE NOW!

      Unfortunately, it is still legal for beavers to be trapped and killed without limit in most of Wyoming. There is a lack of tolerance for beavers on private lands and a deficiency in public and land manager awareness of effective coexistence methodologies for beavers. Our goal is to educate the public on the importance of beavers and encourage the public to spread this information to others, and advocate for their protection. In the wake of climate change, we need beavers on the landscape now, more than ever before.

  • Stephen Blackford

    We must save, protect and support wolves. They are imperative for a healthy ecosystem. More killing leads to smaller packs, more difficult natural hunting and greater likelihood of raiding livestock. Livestock is destroying our ecosystem! Wolves enhance and improve our ecosystem! 🙏🏽🐺❤️

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