Others begin to express their displeasure

Recently, I read an opinion piece in the Casper Star Tribune entitled: Game and Fish has deteriorated over the years. Here is the link, in case you missed it.

As you are aware, Governor Mead assembled a Fish & Wildlife Task Force comprised predominantly of well established lobbyists. From Governor Mead’s News Release (Click here to read Governor Mead’s Press Release), dated April 13, 2015, we learned that “the goal of the task force is to recommend strategies to maximize the benefits of the state’s fish and wildlife resources. Recommendations will include funding, education, vocation and outdoor recreation opportunities, as well as different ways to support the resources.”

We were told in the same “News Release” that “This Task Force will work to engage everyone who enjoys our wildlife – not just hunters and anglers. Representatives from tourism, agriculture, the general public and industry – a stellar group of people – will bring a variety of backgrounds to the discussions,” said Governor Mead.

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Governor Mead’s Fish & Wildlife Task Force – First Meeting

From the very first Task Force meeting until the last, they primarily focused on one concept alone; that of securing an additional $3 million from general fund appropriations to cover 100% of the non-game program costs. Since the G&F could NOT provide the Task Force with a finite number, Task Force Member Diane Shober – Wyoming Office of Tourism, Executive Director, told the Task Force the goal should be raising the G&F budget by $20 million. 

If they are successful in obtaining the additional $3 million for non-game programs, they will be looking for another $17 million from somewhere else. Given the fact that the only other recommendation from the Task Force is to have the legislative body abrogate their legislative authority to the 7 member Game & Fish Commission, we can assume that the remaining $17 million dollars will be sought through increased license fees.

The Joint TRW Interim Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 9th and Tuesday, November 10th and will be held at Casper College. To view the agenda click here. 

I would encourage everyone to attend this meeting to ensure that your voice is heard. Monday will be the primary day for discussion of specific Game and Fish issues on the agenda. Tuesday, people will be able to talk about issues which are not in the agenda. 

 

Should the WY G&F Department Focus Their Priorities on Game & Fish?

Upon the conclusion of Governor Mead’s Fish & Wildlife Task Forces July meeting, the public was once again allowed to testify. This has been a common practice since these meetings began in May.

 

While I have remained pretty silent, in an effort to allow Governor Mead’s F&W Task Force to fulfill their task, I felt compelled to testify at the close of the meeting on Thursday.  Some of my comments were reported in a recent article entitled Game and Fish Task Force is Trying to Balance Funding Sources.  Click here to read the article.

 

From the article, you can see that I clearly stood up for Wyoming’s Sportsmen.  We are the premiere conservationists and primary funding source for game and fish management even if the WY G&F Department would like to replace us with non-consumptive user groups.  

 

Matt Dunfee addressing Governor Mead's F&W Task Force
Matt Dunfee addressing Governor Mead’s F&W Task Force

One thing the article didn’t cover was that the Task Force spent a lot of time on Wednesday talking about the need to recruit and retain more youth hunters; yet, the Commission President said that hunters and anglers could no longer sustain the G&F Department.  Near the close of the meeting on Thursday, the Task Force was once again made similar statements, inferring that Wyoming’s Sportsmen were not capable of sustaining the G&F Department.  I reminded the Task Force that Wyoming Sportsmen can and will sustain the G&F Department until at least 2019, 2020 or possibly until 2021.  If they truly are willing to place more of an emphasis on doing the things they need to do in order to get more youth involved in hunting, fishing (and trapping) then why do they keep saying Wyoming Sportsmen are no longer the future of wildlife management?  I believe it is because they really don’t want Wyoming’s Sportsmen to be their sole constituency.  They would much rather be able to say that they are obligated to manage all wildlife and continue ignoring the concerns voiced by Wyoming Sportsmen.

 

WY SFW will continue to ask that the WY G&F Commission/Department declare what their priorities are for wildlife management.  WY SFW has said that we expect a priority be given to the species that we hunt, fish and trap as these species provide the funding necessary for ALL wildlife management.  Without making these species their priority, WY SFW believes they will make sportsmen take a back seat in wildlife management. The Task Force is at least trying to get a program audit performed for some of the G&F programs.  WY SFW will continue to call for a complete audit; both financial and all programs.

 

I cannot say for sure that Ryan Lance is wrong in his assumption that the “we need new tools”; however, I can say that I believe he is jumping the gun a bit.  If the G&F would focus on the species that we hunt, which have been in decline for too long, and adequately address the role that predators are playing in the suppression of mule deer populations, we will see that Wyoming’s Sportsmen are more than capable of meeting the needs of the WY G&F Department.

 

Stay tuned.

Will You Allow Wyoming Sportsmen to Be Replaced Under Your Watch?

As you know from past emails, I have been trying to raise awareness and inform Wyoming’s Sportsmen of the need for them to show up and weigh in as Governor Mead’s Fish & Wildlife Task Force discusses the future funding of the Wyoming G&F Department.  

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that more Sportsmen didn’t attend the meeting; however, between 14-18 people were in attendance.  This is about 10 more people than have been at prior meetings.  Four WY G&F Commissioner’s attended the meeting, two guest speakers were in attendance and a few legislators also attended.

One rather large surprise was obvious when I saw the agenda.  The first two hours of Wednesday’s agenda was given to the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI).  As you will recall, WMI was already discussed by the Task Force at the June meeting.  If you missed it, click here to read the blog wherein WMI was mentioned and discussed by the Task Force.  This was a surprise as I was under the impression that the Task Force had concluded WMI was not capable of being an independent, third party to perform the program audit of the WY G&F Department.

Ryan Lance, Task Force Chairman, admitted that he and the Governor made the call to invite WMI to appear before the Task Force.  

While Steve Williams was addressing the Task Force, he mentioned the Blue Ribbon Panel, being headed up by former Governor Freudenthal. The Blue Ribbon Panel is attempting to address a similar issue as Mead’s Task Force but on a National level. Steve Williams also admitted that he is serving on the Blue Ribbon Panel. Does this sound like a company capable of being an independent, third party as they perform a program audit of the G&F Department?

We did learn that it would take WMI a minimum of three months to perform a program audit and would cost at least $50,000.  

Matt Dunfee, Program Manager, Wildlife Management Institute addresses Governor Mead's F&W Task Force
Matt Dunfee, Program Manager, Wildlife Management Institute addresses Governor Mead’s F&W Task Force

On Thursday, July 30th, I received an email containing an article entitled: Who Is Going to Replace Today’s Wyoming Sportsmen? To read the article, click here. This article was largely based upon the presentation of Matt Dunfee, Program Manager, WMI provided to the Task Force, who made the statement that Sportsmen are comprised of “a bunch of middle-aged white guys”. He then said that “it won’t be long until they’re in the minority and there’s nobody else to replace them”. 

It is my intent and the mission of WY SFW to ensure that our hunting, fishing and trapping heritage is preserved and protected for future generations.  Wyoming’s Sportsmen will continue conservation and management efforts of all our wildlife resources.  We will achieve this by ensuring that honest and effective efforts will be made to promote hunting, fishing and trapping.  WY SFW will push for increased investments in shooting ranges and shooting sports so that our youth have safe places to learn and develop proper gun handling practices.  WY SFW will propose new ways to facilitate mentors willing to take new hunters and anglers and introduce them to the World we love and desire to preserve. Do you want to be a part of this effort?  WY SFW cannot achieve this alone.  It will require that Wyoming’s Sportsmen step up and answer this call.  Can I count on you and your support of WY SFW and its mission?

Please take advantage of efforts to grow our membership and increase your influence.  It costs money to ensure that someone is at these meetings, ensuring that your voice is heard. 

In addition to joining or renewing your membership, please hit the donation button. Wyoming has many battles that need to be fought and won. Many resigned that a license fee increase was inevitable. WY SFW was the only organization which has fought to ensure that Wyoming’s Sportsmen remain relevant in wildlife management decisions and that the G&F Department is accountable for the maintenance of sustainable, viable and hunt able wildlife populations.