As you receive this email, I will be en route to Cody, WY to attend the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission meeting. This is about a 400 mile road trip and will take about 6 and a half to 7 hours to complete.
Some of you might be asking; “why anyone would want to do this?”
This is a question I often ask myself as well; however, it doesn’t take me long to realize the battle Wyoming Sportsmen and Sportswomen are facing and the consequences should we happen to lose the will to fight. It doesn’t take long for me to realize what is at risk should we walk away, falter or leave a void; a void which will surely be filled by those who seek to change our culture and eliminate our heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping.
The question I ask of each of you is; “Are you still willing to put up a fight?”
Wyoming is at a crossroads. As Sportsmen/Sportswomen, we need to decide if we are going to continue fighting to ensure that we have a seat at the table when critical decisions are being made pertaining to wildlife management in our state or are we going to fold up our tent and seek solace elsewhere; thus allowing others to take our place at the table.
We have experienced some set backs regarding unwarranted and continued protections of recovered wolves and grizzly bears. We continue to see efforts to eliminate elk feed grounds and continued reduction in elk and moose numbers. We see population objectives being lowered, with little, if any, hope that they can be recovered. Some are blaming global warming or state that nothing will change until we get back into wetter climate conditions. We see areas being proposed for trapping closures, knowing that closing the area to legitimate trappers, will not eliminate the risk that pets face when they are allowed to roam freely. We see our Game & Fish Department openly courting non-traditional user groups as they claim license fees are no longer capable of meeting their future funding needs.
We must remember that we have tasted of success. Wolves and grizzly bears were removed from federal protections. This, after having spent millions of dollars recovering them. We have successfully defended our elk feed grounds and kept population objectives from being lowered. We have secured general fund appropriations for programs that benefit everyone, not just hunters, anglers and trappers. We have pushed for a greater priority on mule deer recovery and a return to the basics. We have asked for greater accountability of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. We have stood in defense of the average Sportsmen, to ensure that they were not priced out of hunting. We have asked for program reviews and priorities to be clearly stated.
Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife shall continue to stand for those that value our heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping. We will continue pushing for accountability of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, state management authority over our wildlife, increased efforts for mule deer recovery and restoration of hunter recruitment and retention efforts by demanding that more Pittman/Robertson dollars be spent promoting shooting sport and shooting ranges. We will continue to seek ways to assist the Wyoming Game & Fish Department in obtaining the necessary funding for them to achieve their mission of conserving wildlife, serving people.
I will be meeting with Sportsmen in Cody to rebuild the Big Horn Basin SFW Chapter while I am in Cody. If you are interested in helping, please let me know. WY SFW will be organizing in Sheridan and Natrona County this month as well. If you want to make a difference, this is the group that gets it done. I hope to see some of you at the Cody, WY G&F Commission meeting and will continue to urge your attendance and participation at the July 29th & 30th Governor’s F&W Task Force meeting in Casper, WY.