After 30 years, Wyoming is considering a change to its elk hunting regulations and nonresident quotas. Last week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) announced the possibility of these changes, but don’t have an official proposal drafted yet. Instead, according to Doug Brimeyer, WGFD’s deputy chief in the wildlife division, they plan to first “evaluate public input to decide whether to update regulations,” the WyoFile reports.
Current regulations direct 16% of the limited quota full price licenses to nonresidents. Full price non-limited quota licenses are also available to nonresidents; however, only 7,250 of these two types of licenses are available each year. Nonresident hunters are also eligible for reduced price cow/calf tags.
Brimeyer wasn’t surprised by this particular request, which first came up during a Game and Fish Commission meeting last year.
“This has been an issue for 30 years,” Brimeyer told the WyoFile. “It’s an issue we knew would come up again and again.”
According to the WyoFile, the current nonresident quota of 16% was first established in 1987; the nonresident quota was capped at 7,250 in 1989. There have been no changes made to these established quotas even though the elk population has experienced steady growth. In fact, when the nonresident quota was first set, there were only about 65,000 elk within the state; in 2017, there were over 100,000 despite the fact that 25,000 elk are harvested annually.
Brimeyer says that WGFD uses hunters as its “primary tool for managing elk populations.”
Some residents have voiced concern over changing nonresident regulations, pointing to possibilities of hunter overcrowding and lost opportunities, but outfitters agree with WGFD and believe there’s more than enough elk in Wyoming for everyone.
“We have an incredible number of elk and somebody needs to kill some of them to keep the herd in check,” said Sy Gilliland, owner of S and S Outfitters and Guides and vice-president of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association.
WGFD will collect public comments until June 6 and plan to hold a Facebook Live event tomorrow, May 22, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.