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.
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.