Editor's note: This letter has been edited for length.
I received an e-mail from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) soliciting my input on their proposed budget cuts. If you hunt, trap or fish, you should invest the time to provide WGFD your thoughts.
Parts of the proposed cuts are reductions in fish and bird stocking, curtailing elk winter feed grounds and reduced habitat purchases and restoration. These activities are central to the WGFD’s mission and they are key elements to their funding stream.
It comes down to basic economics. If the WGFD reduces stocking and so forth, fewer folks will get a license, and the WGFD will then collect less money. After all, why go afield if your chances for success are low and you will be crowded into smaller, congested habitat areas with other eager sportsmen? "Punishing" hunters, trappers and fishermen for not getting the fee hikes the WGFD lobbied for is completely counterproductive and counterintuitive.
The problem is that sportsmen’s’ dollars, along with Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 and Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950 dollars are the revenue streams that keep the WGFD afloat. Many of the demands placed on the WGFD come from non-hunting, non-trapping and non-fishing agenda groups. These demands are far beyond the WGFD's mission. These same groups also contribute nothing towards paying for their off-beat demands. After all, there are no birdwatchers' licenses, hikers’ tags or PETA members' annual tag fees paid into the WGFD. These groups don't buy hunting, trapping and fishing equipment, so no additional taxes flow into the Pitman-Robertson or Dingell-Johnson revenue streams.
The costs for these non-hunter/fisher groups are being passed on to you and me without our consent.
If we do not weigh in, who will the WGFD listen to? Perhaps it will be the Humane Society, Earth Defenders, Inc. and PETA. However, before we do weigh in, we should be informed and able to make an articulate argument for our case!
If only the WGFD could undergo the same kind of that the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has gone through the past year. If somebody like Cindy Hill were to take over the WGFD and stream-line it like she tried to do with the WDE, they wouldn't need a license increase for decades.
The WGFD survey can be found at: http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/home.aspx.