JACKSON, Wyo. — Multiple bills that were passed in the 2022 Wyoming Legislature will make changes to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s laws and regulations. Several of the bills passed also have an impact on the public.
Game and Fish has provided a summary of the wildlife-related bills that passed, detailing how they will impact the public and the next steps for implementation.
Trophy game, big game, and wild bison license allocations (HB0043)
The resident license allocation has increased for five of Wyoming’s most sought-after species: bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose and grizzly bear (currently not issued). Residents will now get a chance at 90% of the available licenses, and nonresidents will vie for 10% of licenses. The bill also made these species’ full-priced licenses a once-in-a-lifetime draw and instituted a 5-year waiting period for ewe/lamb bighorn sheep as well as cow/calf moose and wild bison. HB0043 was recommended by the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce following significant analysis, debate and public comment.
This new law does not change hunting license draws this year. The bill goes into effect on July 1; the department has until Jan. 1, 2023 to implement it.
Sage grouse game bird farm-no certification expiration-2 (SF0061)
This bill extends the expiration date for Wyoming sage grouse game bird farm certifications. Permitted farms that are working to establish captive sage grouse populations now have five additional years to conduct work. The new sunset date is Dec. 31, 2027, effective July 1.
Aquatic invasive species inspection enforcement (SF0006)
Boaters who fail to stop at watercraft check stations to get inspected for aquatic invasive species will be facing tougher fines. With this bill any person who is discovered to have passed check stations have 48 hours to get their watercraft inspected for AIS. Boat operators who fail to have their watercraft inspected — after being contacted for not having an inspection — face increased penalties. Violators could face up to a $5,000 fine and may lose Wyoming boating privileges for up to three years. This law will be effective Jan. 1, 2023.
Hunting license application funds (HB0072)
There’s another way to support Wyoming wildlife conservation and access for more places to hunt and fish in Wyoming. People applying for hunting licenses will have the option to donate all or a portion of their refundable license fees to support the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Income Account, the Game and Fish access account or both. This option will be available beginning July 1.
Game and Fish fund investments (SF0059)
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has been granted the authority to invest additional Commission funds into an alternative state-run investment pool. The Commission now has the flexibility to invest operating fund dollars into an investment pool managed by the state treasurer called “Pool A.” The account has the potential for much higher interest yields that would generate increased revenue for on-the-ground conservation projects. This law will be effective July 1.