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WYG&F Broke?

newsletter 8 15 Guy

“The wolves, cougars and grizzly bears start to take a few more elk and moose each year as their unchecked populations grow and expand. The state does not react at first with cuts in the tag quotas. This would mean a decrease in revenue that would have to be met with either more tags somewhere else or even worse, budget cuts.” –From The Predator Death Spiral

Now that the dust has settled from all of the draws and commissioner tags, auction tags and lottery tags have been handed out, we are starting to get a picture of how the budgets look for the different game management agencies across the West. Wyoming is in a situation where they are on a full-court press to come up with revenue and it could prove to be an uphill battle.

Knowing that information, it is easy to assume that they will eventually end up examining license fees across the board, which always seems to end up in a fairly contentious fight. In 2013 a license hike was denied across for the first time since 1937. Asking people to pay more for a product they have been accustomed to paying one price for, for a long time always ends up in a battle.

The governor has put together a task force, similar to what he has put together in other departments, to figure out where cuts need to come from, or if the department is really running on bare bones.

At the heart of this fight is the thought that waste could be cut from the budget of the WYG&F before we ask residents and non-residents alike to pay more for hunting opportunities. The Access Yes program as well as the feed grounds seem to be places that have the crosshairs planted squarely on them.

By my logic this doesn’t seem to make much sense. The key to having a successful Game and Fish agency in any state is to offer a great product that people want to hunt! It is absolutely no secret that our elk herd numbers in the bull elk factory of the northwest portion of the state have gone way down, which means fewer tags to distribute to residents and non-residents alike. Moose populations are as low as I can remember and the size of the herd I remember growing up isn’t likely going to recover for a VERY long time.

The solution to me is really simple, let sportsmen and women hunt wolves and grizzly bears. There is absolutely no reason for us not to be managing their populations! This may sound simplistic but it is the plain and simple truth. Wolf tags mean revenue and fewer wolves means larger elk herds which turn into more available tags that can produce, you guessed it, more revenue.

Grizzly bears are way past their original ESA objectives and we would be hard pressed to find anyone who spends much time in the regions they call home who hasn’t seen their fair share of them. Grizzlies spend much of their spring season following elk and moose cows waiting for an easy meal on their calves. So, the solution is simple, get them off of the ESA and we can manage them. This will turn into, you guessed it, more moose and elk tags for the WYGF to sell which means more revenue.

Instead of being able to manage them and turn them into a source of revenue for the WYGF we see that it turned into a huge hole in the budget that the Wyoming General fund is now paying for. So the fine people of Wyoming are footing the bill for an animal that is fully recovered and growing at a far more rapid pace than we would like to admit. They are also moving further and further from the wilderness areas, we are talking about five miles from the doorstep of Cody Wyoming.  If the feds want it here, they should be paying for the state’s losses from the animal as well as the costs associated with taking care of it.

If we want to avoid these budget cliffs and political gamesmanship every year with the WYGF budget, the solution is really simple. Put more animals on the mountain that we can hunt and lets get these predators off of the ESA to be managed like the rest of the animals our dollars support!




About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. The way things are going there wont be anything to hunt down the road

  2. The could, should, and must start by abolishing the asinine outfitter welfare system AKA prohibiting non-residents from hunting in FEDERAL wilderness areas. I would think that would pull at least a couple hundred guys into the points game and buying general tags (myself included) which is no small chunk of change to Game and Fish.

    • Dane Clemetson

      With all of the out state fingers controlling the grizzly and wolf population, don’t worry about not getting to hunt wilderness, because that will not be an option. Here is an idea, all the bearucrats that want the wolves and bears let’s import them to their home state. Or better yet how about the front yard of some of the moronic federal judges and let’s not forget to send a pack of wolves and a few Grizzlies to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There is a reason these killing machines were iliminated in the first place.

      • So we should put up a fence around the elk and moose herds and kill everything that is a natural predator. Seems like a real natural experience in a balanced ecosystem. Nature was well balanced before we were here and if allowed to function on its own it will continue to balance itself. What you are really saying is that I don’t want to have to work hard on hunts and I want to be successful every time I step foot in the woods. Go to high fence outfitter, you can hunt successfully there every time. Oh, and by the way, a major cause of moose decline is the steady increase in average temperatures but who cares, right?, because you can’t blame that on the predators. Predators are a piece of the puzzle but they aren’t the magic bullet that will fix everything when they are gone.

        • Hal, I really do not think that is what any one is saying. I am sure I am wasting my time trying to explain something to you that goes against your grain, but here goes. What Guy Eastman is trying to say is lets take the Grizzly bear as well as the wolf off the endangered species list. It is obvious that their numbers are well above what they had even planned for. The Deer, and Elk populations are up all over the country because of State Management programs payed for, yep you guessed it, HUNTERS. There is no reason to allow the Bears and the Wolves to decimate deer and elk herds. The simple solutions for both sides is not to decimate the wolf and the bear, it is to manage them. If you allow the States at a local level to manage the wolfs, and the bears, as they did the deer and the elk, the numbers for all four animals will be with in a balance and the state will not need to pass this loss of revenue back onto the hunters of Wyoming. One more question Hal, how much money have you spent on managing the animals you so want to protect????

          • First, I was not replying to the blog but rather this gemtleman’s reply to the blog. I agree that all wildlife should be kept in balance. But who’s balance, the natural balance that has ups and downs of both prey and predators or the balance dictated by hunters that are frustrated because it is difficult to be one of the predators rather than the only predator? Second, hunters do pay for conservation but that does not mean all regulations and policies should be written for the benefit of hunters. All wildlife are held in public trust and this benefit form conservation funds regardless of where those funds come from. Third, I am a hunter and more importantly, in my third year of studies to be a wildlife biologist. I look closely at all these concerns and my main focus is game animals and the management of these animals. I am currently working on a study of desert productivity as seen through mule deer abundance and body size. I rely heavily on hunter data from public lands for this study. So it seems I am spending more via my tuition to protect the wildlife I love than the average hunter. Predators do need to be managed, but to cry foul just because the average guy can’t walk in the woods and two hours later walk out with an elk or moose is not a legitimate reason to call for their slaughter and that is what the genan I was responding to was saying in not so blunt of terms.

        • Hal, you must not be from Wyoming. I have frerinds that hike 5 to 10 miles into their base camps to hunt elk. That is not a two hour trip out and bag your elk and go home. All the hunters I know in northwest Wyoming work their butt off to fill their tag and now have to be looking over thier shoulder the whole time for a grizz. The bears have learned that a gun shot is like ringing the dinner bell.
          I have seen with my own eyes two dead moose on the upper Gros Ventre. One of the carcass wasnt froze yet with fresh wolf tracks all around it. This was in March I dont think the moose died from heat stroke. So if heat is a problem for moose, why is a moose in Nebraska at lake Minatare in August? Must be lost or horny, or could be tired of being harassed by wolves and bears.

          I would like to know how much money WG&F spends moving problem bears around the state to keep the feds happy. In addition to all the game the wovles and bears kill they also are hard on sheep and cattle(some killed for fun and left without being eating).

          Oh and by the way oil and gas industry has spent millions to provide winter range for antelope and mule deer. They follow strick guidelines on they activities that can take place during winter months. The deer and antelope seem to do quite well on the reclaimed pipe line right of ways and locations. Is it possible that the deer and antelope have adapted to the presence of the gas field?

          • Yes, I am not from Wyoming. Yes, I am sure some people walk into a base camp but I am sure many more use a base camp right off a dirt road or a double track. Maybe I was being too blunt, but several people on this site are complaining about how predators have made it harder to hunt these game animals. Please remember historically, these predators have been a significant part of the ecosystem until recently (in a historical reference, recently is the last century to century and a half) when man hunted them out to make harvest5ing game easier and to protect non-native livestock. We are past the point of returning the landscape to pristine ecosystem it was prior to European man’s decent up on it, but to deny their right to live because you have seen them kill moose or eld or deer and not eat all of it is selfish. Man has killed plenty of animal without using all of the carcass (mass killings of the buffalo in the late 1800s). This is part of nature. Does it make the game animals more weary to predators (including man)? Yes, it does, which is why it has become harder to hunt these animals. Do we need to adapt and become better hunters ourselves, yes. Should predator levels be managed? Probably, but not to make hunting easier, but to ensure healthy game and predator populations. Is the wilds cape that we hunt meant to be managed just for game animals? No, that goes against the North American model of Wildlife Conservation.
            The cost of moving problem animals? I don’t know the answer to that.
            The temperature and oil industry affects I am not going to debate. The science (many scientific papers and journals) is sound and scientist are in agreement (expect those that work for the oil industry).
            Lastly I would like to add after reading the many replies to this blog, it seems the greater hurdle to harvesting quality game lies in the fact that much public land is locked up to the average joe and reserved for the outfitters to sell of to the highest bidder. It seems like more ground would be gained by taking on this obstacle while supporting better habitat management for all species.
            I am sure I have not changed your mind about any of this as you seem very passionate about your experiences. If you truly care about wildlife, experiences had in the wild, and quality game, please consider the science behind it, and not just personal experiences.

        • Hal, your idea of balance of nature is a fallacy. Nature’s way of balance is huge peaks and valleys. Populations build to unsustainable levels then a huge die off occurs (mainly disease). Plus, man has so altered the landscape, human intervention is required to keep population levels somewhat in check. You are correct, predation is but one piece of the puzzle but right now, in the West, it is a large piece.

          Wolves and grizzlies need to be managed as a game species. They have become over-populated and are responsible for much of the decline (not all of it) with our big game ungulates.

    • There is part of the answer. Be more non-resident friendly.
      I have had plans for years to hunt Wyoming but gave up when they became so non-resident friendly. Same thing for Montana.

    • If you want to hunt here live here. No one likes you or needs you in this state.

      • Welcome to Wyoming, right Bob? Non-resident pay the lion’s share of the G&F budget you understand, don’t you? Do you want a dramatic license fee hike? I’m a resident, I don’t have a problem with out-of-state hunters.

    • If that happened (you Numbskull), there wouldn’t be ANY Non Residents (who by the way-PAY THE BILLS JOE), who would be capable of hunting the backcountry!!!!! Those who did get back into the wildernesses would not be able to get their harvested animals OUT of the wilderness-for lack of ability, equipment, and livestock! I’ve heard some DUMB answers, but yours tops it off!!

  3. The G&F and outfitters all should go under. It is a rich mans game anymore rooting the common man out . Non-resident tags just keep getting higher with less game and land to hunt.

  4. Dido on the wilderness comment
    Not being able to access Federal lands as a United States taxpayer, just not a Wyoming resident is simply unacceptable. I know of no other situation similar in any other state and question its legality
    Using search and rescue expense is simply a scapegoat – whomever is in need of emergency aid should foot the bill and know and accept that risk on entry
    Predator control across the west is also critical – the situation is dire and one needs to look no further than the Clearwater of Idaho to see the future for Wyoming

  5. I have a ton of respect for both groups (G&F and the Outfitters) and I understand the roles they play and the void they fill. Outfitting is a hard life and the Outfitters are compensated fairly, BUT the days of protecting certain public lands for the sole benefit of Outfitter access is way outdated. MY gosh, federal lands and the game on them should be a public good for all, not just those that can afford it.

    Look at CO as an example. I don’t know this for sure, but I am guessing CO draws the most out of state hunters for elk and deer of any western state. I have hunted WY, MT, and CO for elk and mule deer and CO is now top on my list. However, just 5 short years ago WY was top. In CO, the cost for tags is reasonable, access is great, and the choices are amazing — rifle, muzzleloader, and archery.

    I agree, opening the wolf and grizzly bear is one part of the solution. But, access, hunt choices, and the cost of tags are just as important.

  6. As a Non-esident I also agree with the wilderness areas comments. The outfitters are lobbying to keep the non-residents off of the public federal land. Pretty sad and it keeps a lot of people from purchasing licenses in the state.


    Wolves and grizzly bears should be on the menu….thats a fact….

    I cant beleive people arnt doing their own form of predator control out there….

    People in the east would shoot those wolves and let them lay if they were wiping out our game….

    • Well stay back east then.

      • Not really, I’ll just go to Idaho or Colorado or New Mexico or Montana or Utah or Arizona or Oregon or Washington where I can access the federally designated wilderness that my tax dollars help to conserve.

        In the meantime WY G&F can continue to manage themselves into the ground. I won’t give them a cent and encourage others not to do so because its an ideological issue, let me access the federal land that my taxpayer dollars help fund. I don’t know how a state with so many conservative and libertarian ideals can support a blatantly obvious welfare system for the outfitters.

        • And no, I do not hate outfitters and appreciate what they do for our sport. I just don’t think they should be lobbying for such a divisive issue that pits sportsman against sportsman when we should be focused on conserving habitat and whacking a few fuzzy bears and wolves.

        • I do Joe, it’s all about the money. And with Wyoming’s legislature that’s top heavy with Ranchers (they employ outfitters) then that’s the way it’s going to stay. The good old boy club.

  7. It sounds as though Wyoming is heading down the same slippery slope as Ca. DFG.
    When the needs for additional revinue set pressident over sound game management it’s a no win for all concerned.

  8. Well said Guy, I’ve been saying that for years!
    If they can kill 5 wolves per hunter right across the border in Idaho, why can’t they hunt them in Wyoming? Another brain teaser brought to you from your Federal Government buddies!!
    Regards, By.

  9. Another ditto with respect to the wilderness areas being off limits to non-residents who choose not to pay an outfitter.

    If they want more applications and license sales then they need to let us hunt the land that our tax money is paying to maintain.

  10. They are idiots like the rest of the State Fish cops who embraced Wolves. They are ruining the hunting tradition in this country and at a minimum, deserve to lose their jobs.

  11. Isn’t it up to the voters of each State as to who they want in office. If you get more governmental people concerned with mine and your wildlife instead of lining there pockets, isn’t this part of the battle. I would love very much to help with predator’s aka wolfs, bears.

  12. I agree the guide required for wilderness is a to totally stupid rule but unless the alow more tags for wilderness units seems like it won’t help the revenue problem.

  13. The WGF ought to have enough money. The amount they charge for non resident points is way too much, especially for elk sheep and moose. It gets expensive to put my family in for points so that someday we might draw a good tag. Spot on with the wilderness issue. Any person can go for a hike or fishing in the wilderness but I can’t hunt there? Total BS.

  14. Not to make this a political issue, but it is you can thank the democrats for this problem.

  15. A lot of people have worked very hard to get wolves and grizzly bears off of the ESA. It’s a very political issue and will need to be done by legislation through congress. Nothing else has worked with all of the liberal activist judges we have. We need a change in management in Washington. We need sportsmen to be very involved in the political process. Whining won’t get it done. We need senators and congressmen who will support wildlife issues and we need a new president.
    That’s it.

  16. For several years I hunted with an outfitter out of cody wyoming. His home is just a few miles from cody and in the valley floor. I have been to his home and seen the claw marks of grizzlies on the logs by his garage door entrance. The comment about grizzlies within five miles of cody is completely true, and at times they probably are closet at that. I also understand of a documented instance by montana fwp officials of a radio collared grizzly that crossed the interstate directly behind the football stadium just outside of Missoula Montana at night. As Guy said, anyone who has spent time where these creatures live knows that they have far exceeded the esa requirements. We are grateful for them, as with all wildlife, but populations do need management.

  17. The slow-creep of the American ‘Enclosure Movements’—burgeoning bureaucracy and employee pensions/aging-out issues—the States Rights Issues with regard to the ESA and Management issues—and the burdens-benefits ratios imposed upon non-Resident hunters—the list goes on, is fracturing a cultural tradition: the discussion here evidences that hardy fact.

    Like other bedrock cultural traditions, the Hunter-Conservationist-Ethic is under attack and is teetering on the brink of extinction. Indeed, one could very well aver the sub-cultural tradition should be listed as though an endangered species. If you should ask a person on the street what has been the significance of Pittman-Robertson or Dingell-Johnson upon the aesthetics of the natural world they’d have no clue: and that’s not by coincidence…

    For them technology has allowed them to organise the natural world without having to experience it…what we here experience, they only imbibe as voyeurs—totally disconnected from the natural world; far too many of them exercise dominion and control over Wildlife agencies, and that, too, is not by coincidence…

  18. Exactly, Guy, no other way to say it! Manage the alpha predators or pay the price, PERIOD!

  19. Johnny Bergeson

    I am an outfitter and I personally think the wilderness rule is BS! For those that think outfitters make a killing, well your wrong. Not all outfitters charge outrageous prices for hunts. Yes some do but I believe a working man should be able to afford a dream hunt out west. I also think the predators need controlled in a big way. They are spread out farther than just outside of Cody. They have been seen as far south as the Colorado border. There are areas in the state that are way above objective for elk herds because of private land as well. I would like to see a limited entry tag for a late season Bull elk that would go into December-January time frame. There are a lot of areas that could support a late season bull elk tag. This would also give hunters the chance to get some pretty nice trophies. They could also manage it by way of point limits etc. Its not like they will disturb the elk any more than whats already done because the cow/calf seasons go through end of January in these same areas. This idea may not fix the problems but it will definitely help, its better than not getting any funding at all. Im sure there are some cuts that could happen in the departments as well.

  20. Wow Guy, are you serious? Do you think we have much control over what happens to bears and wolves? What ever happened to the North American Model and sportsman footing the bill? I think we as sportsman can step up to the plate and keep our G&F fully funded through increased license fees.
    Here’s a novel idea: Outfitters make money off of our wildlife and do not pay one dime towards management. How about a per client hunt fee? @ $200/hunt that would roughly $2 million towards management.

    • Jeff, I am not arguing your point, but 2 million dollars in the big scheme of things is pennies. You need to come of with something that will generate real dough. Managing Bears and wolves is the solution. As Guy states in his article, you generate revenue from the beer and the wolves, the deer and elk herd continue to grow, then you issue more tags and generate more revenue from this as well. And if you add your 2 mill from guide fees, well even better.

  21. WGF should violate hunters as much as possible to fill the till. Surely almost every hunter can be stopped, searched, and violated. This has a very beneficial effect for not only the WGF budget, but also the state in general. First, the lion’s share of money from the fines go to the WGF. Any kind of violation means a non-resident either pays up now, or returns for a hearing. I see increased motel/restaurant receipts, lawyer fees, more alcohol consumption (maybe a LOT more), and a host of other revenue positive benefits. The fines alone will more than out-do any receipts for non-resident licenses. Downside? Well, nobody will come hunt WY anymore, but then what would be worth hunting after the wolves and bears get done? Ah, violate them for picking up chewed up carcasses! Seriously, who wants to take a 1:1000 chance at an elk in WY (and probably a running 2 mile shot at that) when they can bank on a 1:100 chance for a kill in Colorado, with at least half the state watching. Model the program after CO, where they don’t have wolves and grizzlies, but would love a crack at ruining their own elk, deer, and moose herds too. You can get violated in CO for things like not having your hat on straight, being too close to private ground when BLM rangers are around, or just generally hunting and having a good time. If WGF is to right its financial ship, they need to just lay waste to the hopes and dreams of non-residents and residents alike. Tongue in cheek? Hunting is beginning to feel almost criminal in a world where we are overrun with anti-gunners and anti-hunters. Good luck up there in WY!

  22. Lol. Stick it to the non res. By making us pay a guide to hunt the wilderness, then ask for help??Pound sand WY. G&F along with the WY. Guide services!! Change your ways if you want the rest of us to care about your problems.

  23. I can’t imagine why there is trouble. 3 years applying for all 4 tags elk, cow elk, deer, antelope and I got nothing. I wanted to spend money in your state but they won’t let me. I would pay to hunt wolves or grizzlys

  24. Right on Guy let us hunt them

  25. Its all about keeping US… WE the people off of Federal Land…because the bureaucrats TRULY believe it belongs to them…and NOT to us! Truly a sad day for the State of Wyoming, as well as Idaho and Montana! We are better at managing ANYTHING rather than let the feds control it. This state of the game is just more proof!c

  26. The solution is very simple however at the same time due to the fury and friendly depiction these predators have been given by television the animal rights groups that help fund the anti hunting organisation’s, saying that grizzly and wolf are and endangered species and insisting that they remain on the endangered species list. However as a wyoming resident for well my whole life I have watched as the elk heard has slowly diminished through the years and just as importantly how the moose have nearly become that of an impossible sight to see while hunting or fishing in the wilderness. I have took the time to sit down and count the number of bear and wolf encounters I have had while Hunting and fishing in the backcountry and we’ll just simply staying at our cabin. I remember the first bear I ever saw a large grizzly had walked up on the back porch of our cabin waiting my grandmother from a dead sleep. As grandma called for me I came into the master bed room to see what was going on I turned on the outside porch light and there I stood with nothing more that a glass door between me and a very large bear. Since then on a yearly basis I have basically a bear encounter a year, And have heard and seen the wolves at their finest I beg to differ with anyone who says that wolves and bears only eat what they must. I have watched as a pack of wolves killed five elk mostly calfs and one old cow and only eating one of them leaving the rest to waist. Believe me when I say this is their routine hunting pattern, they say a single wolf need five elk per year to survive so if you have a pack of five or more slaughtering twice as many elk needed to survive combine that with drought and poor calf crop and well you do the math. There again if you ever thought bears to be scavengers only eating what they most to survive wrong again wait till you witness a sow and a cub in a small heard of during calving season as the sow teaches it’s cub how to kill as they walk through swatting defenseless cows and and newborn calfs during birth and leaving more to waist than you could ever imagine. Still wonder were our elk deer and moose population is going? As I said before the solution is simple we as hunters and outdoors men and women need to rise up and say something to our congressmen and if nothing else take the matters into our own hands I myself would be the first on in line for a grizzly tag even if the tag was highly priced and would love nothing more than to only see wolves in a zoo or the confines of Yellowstone and no where else.

  27. BB, the hunting tradition in this country was to hunt a game animal until the population was so small that they risked going extinct. You have to look no further than the whitetail deer that was hunted to point that if you saw even one during hunting season it was a miracle. They only rebounded because hunters worked with state agencies and federal agencies to limit harvest, better habitat, and reintroduce game in places where it had been hunted to the point of complete absence. As hunters, we are taxed to support conservation efforts, not just to ensure the animals you want to hunt are in large numbers. Part of conservation is having healthy predator populations. Without that, game populations grow unchecked and start to become diseased and stunted in growth due to loss of enough nutrition. Maybe predator numbers do need to considered, but that is only a part of the problem. Habitat fragmentation due to the oil and gas industry disrupts elk movements and limits available habitat. Moose numbers are declining as the average temperature increase because they do not thrive in hotter regions. But to say the state wildlife agency is not doing its job because you can’t as easily walk in to the woods and kill and elk like you did back when the numbers were at there peak, is asinine. Our ecosystems work as just that, a system, and systems are many interconnected parts that function at a greater capacity than any of the parts could on their own. If anything, you should be supporting further investigation into the dwindling elk and moose numbers rather than settling on just predator control as the answer to your less than fruitful hunting excursions.

  28. Proper planning prevents piss poor performance/management!
    Too many predators= less ungulates
    Too less ungulates = less tags & money
    STUPID UNFAIR wilderness regs = less money
    Letting Feds and activists screw your state, PRICELESS!

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