I’m on the fence… yup, you read that right. I’m on the fence with the proposed 90/10 tag split being debated by the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce as you read this. I wish I weren’t riding the fence because I hate being indecisive but the fact is that I honestly see points on both sides of this topic.
First of all, a little background in case you’re not savvy to what’s being proposed… A bill has been introduced to change the Wyoming Resident/Nonresident big game tag allocation for bighorn sheep, bison, grizzly, moose and mountain goat to change the current tag allocation of 80% resident, 20% nonresident to 90% resident and 10% nonresident. That’s the issue in a nutshell but as with most things in life, there’s a lot more to it.
First of all, it’s a bill, there are myriad steps in the process before a bill becomes a law and the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce is in the process of sifting through public comments and discussing the details and “what if’s” of this proposed 90/10 split. We are a long way from a final decision on this thing. Which gives us, the public, time to add our “dos pesos” to the conversation. I’ve provided links for you to visit for public comment and discussion below.
Back to my conundrum of being a spineless fence-rider.
First of all, as a Wyoming resident I would love to add 10% more opportunity to my chances of drawing a coveted tag for one of the “Big 5”. Afterall, I live here, it’s only fair that by making my home in Wyoming I should get more of a shot at those tags than someone who lives in say, Minnesota or California and comes to Wyoming for recreation. This is my home and because of that I enjoy the benefits of more affordable tag prices and higher odds of drawing those tags. I also firmly believe that’s the way it should be. If I want the chance to hunt whitetails in Iowa it’s going to cost me almost $700 for the application alone but my family who lives there just buys the tags they want OTC for less than $35.00. That’s one of the many benefits of being a resident and quite frankly it’s one of the many reasons I moved to Wyoming 15 years ago.
Now for the other foot dangling over the fence.
As a Wyoming resident I fully understand and appreciate that nonresidents contribute an awful large sum of money to not only Wyoming Game and Fish but our state and local economies as well. I know many folks whose businesses would not be feasible without the tourism dollars from visiting sportsmen. A sign outside a popular Wyoming restaurant puts it succinctly, “Please come and eat before we both starve!”
Tourism is Wyoming’s number two source of income. We thrive on other people’s money and we aren’t the only state who does. That’s why tourism dollars work, the resident’s get the benefit of the income and the tourists get to experience something unique and enriching. This model has been around since Chaucer’s pilgrims told their Canterbury Tales.
BUT… how much of that money comes in the form of nonresident hunter’s pursuing bison, moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep? I’m not betting much. I understand that outfitters need those nonresident clients more than the hotel and restaurant proprietors do (it’s simply math) as those clients make up a larger percentage of a Big 5 outfitter’s annual income than Yellowstone tourists do for local tourism business owners. However, I’ve also been told that an awful lot of outfitter’s Big 5 hunts are booked by residents so increasing the tag allotment to 90% would, in theory, put more food on the table for those outfitters’ families.
Like I said, this is complicated and I am still gathering intel to help form a solid opinion one way or another. That said, what say you?
For some great dialogue on this topic visit the Eastmans’ Forum via the link below
Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce Meeting Videos
Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce Public Comment Page