CHEYENNE — The 2023 Wyoming Legislature passed several bills that will make changes to Wyoming Game and Fish Department laws and regulations. The following is a summary of the notable Game and Fish-related bills that passed, how they will impact the public and the next steps for implementation. Game and Fish will continue to provide updates as these changes move through the regulation process.
Hunters will be allowed to hunt predatory animals on public or state land at night with the use of artificial light, including thermal and infrared imaging. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has been granted the authority to establish rules and regulations regarding the creation of zones, areas, seasons and methods for the taking of predatory animals with the use of artificial light on public or state land. Game and Fish will provide updates as these changes move through the regulation process.
Wyoming residents may be allowed to participate in a pursuit-only season for mountain lions with dogs in areas where mountain lion hunting is permitted. The harvest of mountain lions during a pursuit season is illegal and subject to misdemeanor charges and fines. Game and Fish will provide updates as these changes move through the regulation process.
Forty percent of nonresident deer, elk and antelope licenses are placed in the pool for the special draw. This bill increases the fees for those who apply for the special draw.
The special draw fee for elk, deer and antelope will increase to the following:
- Nonresident elk special fee: $1,258
- Nonresident deer special fee: $826
- Nonresident antelope special fee: $874
This bill also will increase the nonresident fees for some of Wyoming’s most coveted licenses to the following:
- Nonresident bighorn sheep license: $3,000
- Nonresident mountain goat license: $2,750
- Nonresident moose license: $2,750
- Nonresident grizzly bear license: $7,500
- Nonresident wild bison license: $6,000
Nonresidents who wish to enter the special draw for antelope, deer and elk are responsible for paying the special draw fee in addition to the license and application fee. This bill has no effect on the allocation or number of resident licenses. This bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
Shed antlers and horns conservation stamp requirement for nonresidents (HB0276)
This bill establishes shed antlers and horns on public land as property of the state and requires nonresidents to obtain a conservation stamp prior to the collection of shed antlers and horns on designated lands. A conservation stamp will not be required for residents of Wyoming or any person under 15 years of age. Nonresidents will not be required to obtain a conservation stamp this year. Game and Fish will provide updates as these changes move through the regulation process.
Collection of antlers or horns by residents and nonresidents (HB0123)
Wyoming residents will have the opportunity to collect shed antlers on designated lands seven days before the start of the nonresident season. Currently, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission regulation prohibits anyone from collecting shed antlers or horns from public lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin and some land west of Laramie, from Jan. 1 through 6 a.m on May 1. This bill goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
State shooting complex task force (SF0169)
This bill creates a 12-member task force that will oversee the creation of a state shooting, archery and education complex. Directors from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, State Parks and Cultural Resources and the Department of Tourism or their designee will be members along with other representatives of the Wyoming Legislature, a conservation group, a shooting sports group and the firearms manufacturing industry.
Defining aircraft for the purposes of hunting prohibitions (SF0033)
This bill provides a clear definition of aircraft in W.S. 23-3-306 which states the use of aircraft, automobiles, motorized and snow vehicles and artificial light for hunting or fishing purposes are not allowed. The definition of aircraft has been updated to include any machine or device capable of atmospheric flight including but not limited to an airplane, helicopter, glider, dirigible or unmanned aerial vehicle. This bill goes into effect July 1.
Unlawful trespass signage-taking of wildlife (HB0147)
Prohibits anyone from knowingly and without authorization to place signs that restrict access to public land. This bill goes into effect July 1.
Prohibit travel across private land for hunting purposes (SF056)
This bill prohibits anyone from entering, traveling through or returning across private property to take wildlife, hunt, fish or collect antlers or horns without the permission of the owner or the person in charge of the property. This bill goes into effect July 1.