Governor Mead’s Fish and Wildlife Task Force

Governor Mead’s Fish and Wildlife Task Force Appears Before the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources (TRW) Committee.

 

Chairman Ryan Lance presented F&W Task Force Recommendations to the Joint TRW Interim Committee.

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Joint TRW Interim Committee in Kemmerer, WY

Here are the Task Force Recommendations to the TRW Committee:

1 a) Engage an objective and qualified third party to conduct a program review of the WY G&F Department with a report to the Governor before the 2016 legislative session.  Governor Mead has requested that once the program audit is complete, the Task Force reconvene to further review and, if necessary, refine its recommendations.

b) The WY G&F Commission should have the authority to establish fees for licenses, stamps and permits for programs directly related to game and fish species within the limits established by the legislature (e.g. limits on and frequency of adjustments, and agency operating fund balance).

c) Revenues generated from licenses, stamps and permits should be used for programs that benefit game species.

d) General fund appropriations should be allocated to fully fund management of currently legislatively funded non-game species and other “legislatively mandated” programs. “Non-game species” shall include Sensitive Species, Grizzly Bears, Wolves and Sage Grouse.  “Legislatively Mandated” programs shall include Aquatic Invasive Species and Veterinary Services.

e) Adjust Governor’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) budget to adequately address species that, if listed, may adversely affect Wyoming’s economy.

f) Fully fund the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust (WWNRT) at the authorized level in order to allow the Trust to achieve its purposes without future appropriations.

g) Until implementation Task Force recommendations 1b, 1c, and 1d, general fund appropriations should be allocated for the purpose of health insurance costs for employees in the commission funded programs.

h) WY G&F Department should be responsible for its own deferred maintenance expenses (currently $1.5 million). It is appropriate for general fund to continue funding capital improvements.

i) Engage with Wyoming congressional delegation with the goal of reforming the ESA.  In the interim, secure additional federal funding for state management of ESA to decrease Wyoming general fund appropriations.

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Representative Jaggi attending the TRW Committee meeting

Although there were many people in attendance; Task Force members, representatives of sportsmen or conservation organizations, etc, only four people testified.  Those which testified were: Representative Allen Jaggi, former TRW Member; Brett Moline, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation; myself, representing Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, and WY G&F Commissioner Charles Price.

 

The Joint TRW Committee chose not to take any actions at this time.  The F&W Task Force will be meeting once again in Casper, at the end of the month.  I will keep you posted as things continue to develop.

August 13, 2015

Update – Wolf Management Plan

 

On August 11, 2015 the Joint TRW Interim Committee met to discuss several topics. If you would like to see the agenda click here. 

Representative Albert Sommers testifying before the Joint TRW Interim Committee
Representative Albert Sommers testifying befire the Joint TRW Interim Committee

The Tuesday morning session opened with Travis Jordan, Senior Legislative Assistant to US Senator Mike Enzi, addressed the Task Force regarding Congressional efforts to remove unwarranted federal protection of wolves in Wyoming and the Western Great Lakes DPS. He reported that US Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI) has introduced House of Representatives Bill H.R. 884: To direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming. If you would like a link to “track the bill” click here.

 

It is a simple, 2 page bill that you can access by clicking here. Basically, the bill will direct the Secretary of Interior to restore the rules that led to wolves in the Western Great Lakes GPS and Wyoming.  Furthermore, it will prohibit judicial review of this action.  This is similar to the rider which was used to remove Idaho and Montana wolves from federal protections; however, this is in the form of a bill, not a rider.  Representative Lummis is also a sponsor of this bill.  Travis Jordan mentioned that this bill also has bipartisan support and that it looks very promising that it will be passed.

 

State Representative Sommers also testified before the Joint TRW Committee about the impacts wolves and grizzly bears are having upon the Upper Green River Grazing Association.  Rep. Sommers asked the Committee to write a letter to our Congressional delegation urging their support of H.R. 884.

 

I testified before the Joint TRW Committee as well and asked that they also remind our Congressional delegation that grizzly bears have also met and currently exceed recovery goals and objectives. I mentioned that one more person has been recently killed by grizzly bears and that more attention should be given to human health and safety concerns. 

 

I will keep Wyoming’s Sportsmen and Sportswomen up to date as things progress.

Why are Sportsmen under Attack?

At the recent WY G&F Commission meetings, held in Cody, WY, July 9th & 10th WY SFW was personally challenged by a newly appointed G&F Commissioner. You can see the exchange by clicking here. The exchange takes place at approximately 1:14:05 – 1:20:26. DSC_0211

Now for comparison, see how a new anti-trapping organization is treated the following day at the same WY G&F Commission meeting by clicking here.  They begin testifying at approximately 2:55:05.  They mention some 5700 people sent in emails and 600 were from Wyoming.  They also claim that only 46 comments were submitted in opposition to closing Cache Creek to trapping.  Once again, these same individuals address the Commission at approximately 4:01:24 mark. 

What could possibly explain the difference in the treatment of a Wyoming sportsmen’s organization that has been active in Wyoming since 2003 and a newly formed, anti-trapping group?

WY SFW has been the leading Voice in Wyoming since it began in 2003. We have been instrumental in getting grizzly bears and gray wolves removed from federal protections, when almost everyone told us it couldn’t happen. Yes, federal protections have been unjustly imposed on Wyoming once more, but who else will fight to see them removed from unwarranted federal protections?

WY SFW played an instrumental role in establishing the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust (WWNRT). A feat that was attempted twice before WY SFW got it done by working with Agricultural and Energy interests, the groups which had defeated past attempts to establish a wildlife trust.

WY SFW played an instrumental role in securing general fund appropriations for 5 programs that continue to receive general funds today rather than diverting sportsmen’s dollars away from our programs. These 5 programs are: Sage Grouse Management, Aquatic Invasive Species, Wolf Management, Veterinary Services, and Sensitive Species.

WY SFW played an instrumental role in restoring lost revenue due to legislative actions which obligated the WY G&F Commission to sell licenses at a reduced cost, a savings of about $1 million annually.

WY SFW has stood in defense of your second amendment rights by playing a role in securing and passing the Constitutional Right to Carry. We removed outdated language that was being used to prohibit the legal use of a legally obtained suppressor. WY SFW coordinated several opportunities for Wyoming legislators to learn and experience the use of a suppressor with the help of a Wyoming based business, Thunderbeast Mfg., located in Cheyenne, WY. By providing hands on opportunities for legislators, we were able to dispel several myths related to suppressors and removed the threat of using them in Wyoming.

Yes, WY SFW even supported and helped pass the license fee increases of 2008. Then WY G&F Director, Terry Cleveland knew that our participation was vital in that effort and he fought to include WY SFW when other sportsmen groups sought to exclude our organization from participation.

Knowing all of this, why would a WY G&F Commissioner attempt to silence, intimidate and diminish WY SFW, an organization which has been so effective in providing Wyoming’s Sportsmen a Voice? Why would the WY G&F Commission and Department work so hard, some would say even court, an anti-trapping organization?

After working with the WY G&F Commission, Department and State Legislature to secure millions of general fund dollars, WY SFW now finds itself being vilified and our past efforts completely forgotten. Why? Simply because Wyoming’s Sportsmen questioned whether or not WY G&F Department had clear priorities as they were unable to articulate a need for recent proposed license fee increases. When threats of cuts to programs were thrown out, WY SFW asked how the G&F Department could cut programs without having a process to determine which programs were or were not achieving Department goals. WY SFW asked if cost/benefit analysis had ever been used to evaluate Department programs and we were told they had not performed any cost/benefit analysis of their programs. Because WY SFW wanted to ensure that only ineffective programs were cut rather than randomly cutting programs and thus potentially eliminating good programs, WY SFW now finds our organization being singled out from the rest.

It is my belief that the WY G&F Department is attempting to diminish our organization because we were the only Sportsmen’s group which dared ask them hard questions. Others immediately ran to their aid, and I am equally certain, they were promised certain gains if they were successful in getting more money directed to the G&F Department. WY SFW will continue to work to ensure that Wyoming’s Sportsmen have a significant Voice in the management of Wyoming’s Wildlife.

We have a G&F Department which seeks to secure “non-traditional” or “alternative funding” as a means to further diminish the voice of Wyoming’s Sportsmen. This is nothing more than an attempt to increase their constituency to include everyone; thereby eliminating their true and identifiable constituents, Sportsmen.. This will enable the G&F Department to always have someone or another non-traditional user group to step forward and provide them with cover to increase the cost of wildlife management and grow government. Sportsmen need to continue willfully paying for all wildlife management costs and preserve hunters, anglers and trappers as their identifiable constituents; otherwise, Wyoming’s Sportsmen will find enough non-traditional or “alternative funding” has been secured and our interests to maintain and sustain hunt-able and watchable wildlife will surely be replaced within a Department that has already shown its disdain for Sportsmen.  DSC_0212

WY SFW desires to see an increased statewide priority for mule deer population recovery, restoration of shooting sports and shooting ranges to aid in recruitment and retention of younger sportsmen and sportswomen, greater priority given to predator management and full and complete restoration of Wyoming’s right to manage grizzly bears and gray wolves via traditional methods, including hunting of these species’.

If it is you share our desires, I would encourage your attendance at the next Governor’s Fish & Wildlife Task Force meeting, to be held July 29th and 30th. You will notice that even our own Governor would prefer to see an emphasis away from the Game & Fish aspect of the Department as he has chosen to change the name of his Task Force to reflect his views. They want the emphasis to be about Fish & Wildlife while they refuse to admit that it has always and will always be the hunters, anglers and trappers that pay for wildlife management. Any deviation from the current North American Model of Wildlife Management must be stopped or our future heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping will certainly be lost and/or replaced with a system that is sure to ignore the role that Sportsmen have played in wildlife conservation.

Please take the time to renew your membership and rededicate yourself to the mission of WY SFW; otherwise, you will continue to see your voice and influence diminished until all you are doing is paying for more for less hunting, fishing and trapping opportunity. Your heritage is under threat! Take action now and renew your membership today (click here to access membership link) and send the message to Commissioner Crank that Wyoming’s Sportsmen are here to stay.