Volume 2, Number 20 - August 15, 2002
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Antler hunting season proposed
A proposal to institute an antler-hunting season in this region will soon be subject to public comment.
The Wyoming Wildlife Harassment Committee was created in the summer of 2001 and recently presented its recommendations to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. The commission approved the recommendations, directing the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to work up drafts of the proposals for the commission to take formal action at meetings later this fall.
• One of the recommendations is to institute an antler-hunting season in specific problem areas of western Wyoming. According to public information specialist WG&F Mark Gocke, the specific antler hunting season areas and time periods won't be determined until later, but the Pinedale, Jackson and Green River areas are recommended for the season. Seasonal closure dates under discussion call for closure from Jan. 1 through either April 1 or May 1. This proposal could be implemented before this winter, Gocke said. The draft proposal will go before the WG&F Commission Sept 9 and 10 in Casper and will be finalized at the December commission meeting.
"Antler hunting is indicated by both internal and general public comment as a major cause of wildlife disturbance to wintering big game in the areas of proposed antler seasons," the committee's report stated. "Antler seasons target the specific group of land users perceived to directly cause this disturbance."
• The committee recommended the agency pursue legislation "to prevent intentional or needless types of wildlife harassment.
"A new statute is proposed to address different types of harassment to wildlife that is not currently covered under Wyoming law," according to the committee's report. "The existing statute prohibiting wildlife harassment only pertains to harassment involving the use of motorized vehicles.
"Based on our discussions with the public, it was apparent most people were under the impression there were already laws in place to protect Wyoming's wildlife from all forms of harassment," the report stated. "In fact, when asked how to address harassment many people suggested we enforce the laws we already have. When these people learned the reality of our existing harassment statute, there was nearly unanimous support for strengthening this legislation.
"While this solution will not necessarily reduce the amount of traffic on wildlife winter ranges, it does address the problem of wildlife harassment, regardless of the recreational activity.
• The commission will also eºxplore creating Memorandums of Understanding with federal agencies to allow WG&F officers to enforce federal travel restrictions included in travel plans. This would include violations of vehicle and/or human presence closures on designated critical winter ranges and other travel violations.
The report stated: "Based on feedback from professionals and the public, there is widespread recognition that the rapidly increasing use of off-road and recreational vehicles is impacting wildlife and wildlife habitats, as well as the hunter and angler in the field. The illegal use of recreational vehicles is identified as a major source of wildlife harassment, and broad base support exists for increased enforcement of current federal regulations. Federal agencies are currently unable to address the need for enforcement."
The commission also agreed to continue its public educational efforts and continue instituting seasonal closures in critical habitats.
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