The Commission took initial steps toward revising Wyoming’s trapping rules. To help inform decision-making, the Commission asked the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to gather information on the public’s views on trapping and develop recommendations for rule changes. The Department embarked on a public collaborative process with trappers, recreationalists, pet owners and conservation groups and presented that feedback at the meeting.
The Commission asked the Department to approach the Wyoming Legislature for statutory authority for the Commission, on a case by case basis, to require trapping setbacks around high-use public land areas in Wyoming as well as authority for the Commission to develop regulations requiring mandatory trapper education. The Commission also directed the department to draft two regulations for review, one which would restrict trapping where Game and Fish releases pheasants during hunting season; the other would limit the use of large power snares. Those two regulations would be available for public comment prior to being presented to the Commission for approval.
“Trapping is an important part of Wyoming heritage. It’s a right guaranteed to the state’s citizens through the Constitution of the State of Wyoming,” Pete Dube, Game and Fish Commission president said. “In addition to the measures we passed, the Commission supports the Department’s recommendations to develop more information to further the public’s understanding of the sport.”
The Commission approved a proposal to change the spring antler collection opening time from noon to an earlier 6 a.m. on May 1. This applies on public land west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin and is slated to begin in 2021.
Game and Fish is moving forward to develop a long-term elk feedground management plan. The Commission listened to a presentation that gave an overview of the complex feedground management issues, including brucellosis and the potential for chronic wasting disease. Commissioners encouraged people who are interested in the future of elk feedgrounds to attend a series of virtual meetings in December and share their thoughts.
The Commission heard updates on the Department’s capital construction projects. Game and Fish is currently taking bids for Cody Regional Office construction until early December with building slated to begin in spring 2021. The Commission is pursuing a proposal to build employee housing in Jackson on the edge of the Commission’s South Park property, and is evaluating plans for construction.
Game and Fish presented Jill Tonn with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Excellence in Wildlife Conservation Award. Tonn spent 25 years with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and made significant contributions to Wyoming’s wildlife. The Commission was recognized for their 2019 Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Commission of the Year award.