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An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

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An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Old 10-03-2007, 02:06 PM
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Default An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Wyoming Game and Fish doesn't allow the non-resident to hunt big game on federal wilderness areas without a licensed guide, yet the resident can. It is simply unconstitutional to discriminate between resident and non-resident hunters in terms of access. We should all have equal access opportunities on our federal public lands.

I just recently returned from a self-guided elk hunt in Wyoming. Before making the trip I thoroughly researched the hunting units that are available to a non-resident. Utilizing google earth, purchased maps, study of harvest data, discussions with game biologist and USFS rangers, I developed a keen understanding of multiple areas to hunt. From the beginning, I questioned the Game and Fish representatives about the guide requirement on wilderness areas. Not a single employee new of a ticket written to a non-resident for hunting on wilderness without a guide. We even joked that I would meet a game warden on opening day at the wilderness boundary to be the first. Despite my initial disgust for not being allowed to hunt on our national wilderness areas, I quizzed the biologists and studied the harvest data to determine some good alternative places to start. Having a BS in wildlife management and being a seasoned archery elk hunter, I new what to look for in a hunting area. I studied and generate numbers like bulls harvested per square mile, elk density estimates, utilize past telemetry studies, etc. To make a long story short, I paid outrageous fees, and found few elk to speak of. I hunted the best USFS land in Greys River, units west of Gros Ventre, the head of the Wind River, even the Sierra Madre and found few elk number and poor herd structure. I wanted to venture into the wilderness areas for it was all around me in the Jackson area, however we didn’t risk it for my father is a state wildlife biologist. Essentially I paid the full license fee, feed grounds fee, conservation stamp, archery permit, and was not able to hunt the best public land elk habitat around the Jackson area.

In a court case filled against Wyoming Game and Fish which was dismissed, I noticed a reference about delineation of hunting units and that the unit in question had both wilderness and USFS land in it. However, the court didn’t recognize that game animals are not evenly dispersed across a hunting unit. Rather, typically 90% of game can only be found in 10% of the habitat for a given time and season. For example, the best summer and early fall range for the Jackson elk herd is found on the wilderness areas, hence creating a privileged situation for the resident and licensed guide. And to add to it, the USFS is continuing to annex more federal land under wilderness jurisdiction. This is great for many forms of public recreation, however it further limits access for the non-resident hunter in Wyoming. The guides are sure happy. Question: There might be a Wyoming state law that guarantees no net loss of hunting land. Would this apply for the non-resident?

The state has been granted the authority to manage the wildlife resources within their borders. For game animals, they regulate hunting periods, harvest method, harvest number and allowable take, all within a location or unit. However, Wyoming has taken it a step further towards the end of marketing wildlife resources for capital gains and even further by regulating access by participating license holders on federal lands. If a non-resident pays an inflated fee to gain a license then we should have equal rights as the resident. Isn’t this why the state can justify the inflated rate, since the non-resident provides little towards the state tax base. Once we buy a license, we have a tag, the tag that gives us the privilege to hunt game within that state. So when the state doesn’t allow equal access, it is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The USFS controls access to federal lands, not the Game and Fish. With an agenda to support the local guide services, the WGF has stepped out of its given rights to manage wildlife resources. Rather they are supporting private enterprise at the expense of the non-resident and potentially wildlife resources .

I’m just an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, but I have many questions. Does USFS support the access laws that WGF have adopted? Is there a precedent in other states where non-residences have equal rights to access wilderness areas? Idaho, Montana, Colorado. What is the relationship between the Wyoming guide association and WGF. Is wilderness access a regulation or law and was it passed by the state legislature?

I don’t have the funds to start making legal cases. However, I do have the time to start making these issues more aware to the public. The key to change is public support. While working for Idaho Game and Fish and Virginia Dept of Game and Fish, I learned that the public majority dictates laws and regulations. I feel that the more hunters know, we will begin to see an outcry of support for equal access and potentially fair licensing allocation. If you have any comments they will be greatly appreciated.

Best Regards,
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Old 10-03-2007, 02:23 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Very well written observation and I agree with you 100%. Certain interest groups seem to have influence over decisions. Being federal land you would think non-redidents and residents would be treated equally. Residents already have the advantage in the draw, no need to continue with legislation that is definately discriminatory. I'd love to see changes made but I'm sure outfitters would not be happy about it.
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Old 10-03-2007, 02:41 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Well written, yepper. . .but I feel the locals have a right to obtain income from visitors and protect/manage their patch. Not all the folks who come from far and wide respect the land like you might.
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Old 10-03-2007, 03:20 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Alaska does the same thing when hunting certain species. You must use a guide or be with resident family members.

The reason they do this isto keep people safe. Fartoo many people come out from back East, California, or where ever that have never seen the Rocky Mountains, much less hunted miles into the wildernessand end up getting lost in wilderness mountains, getting injured, etc... etc... and have to be rescued and the state has to pay for it, the state has to riskthe livesof their residents searching for these lost people, The state must use their equipment and resources, etc... etc...not the Feds.

No one is forcing people to hunt in Wyoming or any where else and hunting is not a right guaranteed to you by any constitutional document. It is a privelage and if someone doesn't like their hunting laws they don't have to hunt in that state.


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Old 10-03-2007, 03:53 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

The law is very unconstutional in a very UN-AMERICAN way. One question to all that think this is protecting the game that they think belongs to just them? what your saying is its okay for a a resident who just moved there from back East to to hunt in the wilderness area but its not okay for an Eastener who lives in the East to hunt there. Discrimination based on where someone lives is dispicable! Whats next, telling me I can't hunt somewherebecause I look a certain way! Hey Stick Bow, get the patition started and we will contact the US Sportman's Allience and see whats what. Ifthe law was really serious aboutbeing concerned about people's well being why not make you take a wilderness skills test of class? What a waste?I am going out to the Big Horns next week and plan on buying all our supplies out there inone of the small towns. Not because i have to but because i respect the people who live in the area. BTW Texasimport were you singing the same song before you moved to Loveland? andBigBulls I guess your from Wyo?Not all us Easteners are horn honking finger flashing cell phonetalking flat footers! Thats it! you convinced me, I moving next week LOL
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Old 10-03-2007, 04:07 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

ORIGINAL: bigbulls

The reason they do this isto keep people safe. Fartoo many people come out from back East, California, or where ever that have never seen the Rocky Mountains, much less hunted miles into the wildernessand end up getting lost in wilderness mountains, getting injured, etc... etc... and have to be rescued and the state has to pay for it, the state has to riskthe livesof their residents searching for these lost people, The state must use their equipment and resources, etc... etc...not the Feds.
This argument doesn't hold much water because they don't restrict non-residents from hiking or camping in these same areas, they just restrict non-residents from hunting in these areas.

My 2 cents. Nathan
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Old 10-03-2007, 04:08 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

NJheadhunter. . . To be honest. . when I lived in Texas I hunted in Texas and was very happy with what I had. . . .I now live in colorado and now I hunt here and once again I am happy with what I have. . . . each state has its pros and cons. . .I work with the cards I have been delt and am thankful form them.
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Old 10-03-2007, 04:18 PM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Don't get mad at me. I am just relaying it the way I understand their reasoning behind it.

I don't see where anything is uncostitutional about this law. You are not guaranteed the right to hunt in this country. Not in Wyoming or any other state.

Hunting is not a Right even though some people think it is.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:02 AM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

Personally, I find it ironic that one is concerned with the constitutional right to access public land, when there is no constitutional right for the fed to own vast tracks of land to begin with. The states do indeed have the constituional right to manage their resources as they see fit, affirmed by the supreme court in the USO outfitters case.If your concerned with constitutional land issues, I suggest you find in the constitution where the fed is allowed ownership of land within states for purposes others then postal or military use, you wont find it.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:53 AM
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Default RE: An Outcry for Equal Access Hunting on Federal Land in WY

and have to be rescued and the state has to pay for it, the state has to riskthe livesof their residents searching for these lost people, The state must use their equipment and resources, etc... etc...not the Feds.
Does WY. not have a little added fee on each hunting license, such as CO. does, to pay those expenses?
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