Wyoming Passes 90/10: The Worst Article You’ll Read This Year - by Guy Eastman

lukew

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If you are one of the nearly 12,000 nonresident sheep or moose applicants in the Wyoming preference point system this will probably be one of the most infuriating articles you will read this year.

Before I go any further on this subject I need to highlight two important points of clarity, first off, most of my coworkers and I are residents of Wyoming and stand to benefit from this legislation. I will do my best to be as objective as possible on the subject with as many facts as possible.

Second, the wildlife inside the borders of the state of Wyoming and any other state for that matter, is the sole property of the residents of that state, period. The residents of the state of Wyoming through their governmental representation have the full right and responsibility to regulate as they see fit, the full management of that wildlife in its entirety. Sometimes that can be a tough pill to swallow for nonresident hunters who are at the full mercy of the residents of said state, particularly when those nonresidents are so heavily invested financially and emotionally into a preference point system.

Now for the hard part, earlier this morning Governor Mark Gordon signed House Bill 43 into Wyoming law. This bill changes the tag allocation for Wyoming’s most coveted big game tags to a 90/10 allocation for the “Wyoming Big Five” as they call it. This bill explicitly changes the nonresident tag allocations for bighorn sheep from 25% down to 10%, a net decrease of 60%, while the species of moose, Rocky Mountain goat and bison will be reduced from 20% down to 10%, a net decrease of 50%.

As you can imagine this will have a devastating effect on the preference point system for sheep and moose in Wyoming for nonresident applicants. The net effects of this are two-fold. First off, the amount of preference points required to draw a sheep or moose tag in Wyoming will more than double under the new system. For instance, Area-2, a very popular sheep area in Wyoming, currently has a tag quota of 20 sheep tags. Last year this tag took 22 preference points to draw for a nonresident hunter with one of the five nonresident tags being allocated in the random draw for one lucky applicant with less than 22 points. Under the new system, instead of five nonresident tags available for this hunt there will be only two nonresident tags available. There will be no tags available for the random draw and as a result, under the current demand the number of preference points required to draw a nonresident sheep tag in Area-2 will now be 53 preference points and counting! Yes, you read that correctly this “middle of the road” sheep hunt will now take more than 50 preference points to draw!

Second, as you can see, the preference point system as it is currently structured is mathematically insolvent. I believe the state will be forced to ditch the preference point system and implement some sort of bonus point system where there are no longer any guarantees as to when you will draw a tag. With around 11,000-point holders in the system for both moose and sheep and a newly reduced nonresident tag allocation of 18 sheep tags, down from 44 tags and 36 moose tags from 72 tags, there will not ever be enough resources to fulfill the demand. Using those numbers, it would take 651 years to fulfill every sheep applicant and 315 years for every moose applicant in the system to get drawn. As you can easily see, the system will collapse under its own weight as it now stands.

If the state does not change the preference point system, there will be very, very few if any tags available in the random draw. Effectively reducing your chances of drawing a sheep or moose tag in Wyoming to zero unless you have more than 20 preference points.

If I had to guess, the Game and Fish Department is probably in the process of interviewing good defense attorneys, as the class action lawsuits are certain to fly. The idea of having to refund every nonresident applicant, all 22,000 of them, their preference point fees for the past 26 years would surely push the department to the point of insolvency. A bill of more than $50 million could be on the line. Add this to a department which is already in a massive fight with the landowners of Wyoming regarding how livestock reimbursements for wolf and grizzly bear depredations are calculated, a case that has been pushed up to the state Supreme Court after the Game and Fish lost every single case all the way up the judicial chain thus far, and the potential dollars on the line are almost beyond imagination. Needless to say, the state continues to retain piss poor legal representation and should probably give Jerry Spence in Jackson a call sometime soon.

I have said from the beginning that Wyoming has been beyond generous to nonresident hunters when it comes to sheep and moose tags. A 20 -25% nonresident allocation is well beyond what most neighboring and comparative states allocate. That is a fact. Colorado is the next most generous with a maximum of 15% while most other states are 3-5% maximum for nonresident sheep and moose tag allocations. So, I can clearly see the basis for the 90/10 argument regardless of my personal opinion. But this could just be the beginning.

As if this were not bad enough news, it could potentially get much, much worse for nonresident hunters in Wyoming. The WWTF, the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force set up by the Commission and the Governor, of which I know a few of the members personally, is apparently working out a potential compromise for a 90/10 allocation for deer, elk and antelope as well. This process is in its infancy and has a long, long way to go yet. At this point, from what I am hearing this compromise appears to include, transferable land-owner tags, and an up to 50% outfitter set aside for outfitted nonresident hunters. Needless to say, this change would be horrendous for the DIY nonresident hunter as the nonresident allotment would be cut in half, and then half of that would be set aside for guided hunters, all while further subtracting the nonresident landowner tags from this pool in addition.

Potentially under this possible system, the nonresident DIY hunter could see their odds of drawing an elk, deer and antelope tag in Wyoming cut by nearly 90%. For instance, the famed Region G deer tag, currently has a quota of 400 nonresident buck deer tags. Under the proposed system, that quota would automatically drop to 200 tags with the 90/10 law, then 100 of those remaining tags would be given to outfitters in the region and then at least half of those remaining 100 tags could be sold to nonresidents by landowners in the area taking the total DIY quota down to only 50 total tags or even less. With 2,150 total applicants (for the 2021 draw) for this hunt the amount of preference points needed to hunt here could skyrocket to over 40 points or more. This general region hunt could easily become a once-in-a-lifetime endeavor.

The 90/10 law for deer, elk and antelope still has a long way to go with some very large hurdles to be negotiated yet. If nothing, else, the financial repercussions of this change alone would be devastating for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Of the total $80 million budget, nonresident hunters and fisherman account for more than 60% of the revenue. This change could cut the department’s revenues by 30-40%. A cut of this magnitude would essentially be unsustainable. The residents will not bear this financial burden, we are confident in that, possibly leaving, yet again, the nonresident hunters to pick up the financial tab. We will keep you posted on the progress of this legislation as it progresses.

As a result of these scenarios, if you find yourself as a high point holder in Wyoming I would highly suggest you think about burning those points soon. This could easily get worse before it gets better.

While this news is bad for most of you reading this, it could get worse than worse for those of you who apply for many states throughout the West each year. Wyoming is not alone in this process. The state of Colorado is following Wyoming’s lead on this. There is a movement afoot in Colorado to accomplish the same result there as well. It’s no secret that Colorado has been extremely generous to nonresident hunters when it comes to tag allocation over the years. That could be coming to an end as the residents of Colorado are vying for more of their tags and the elimination of the over the counter elk options for nonresident hunters and bowhunters statewide. We will keep you updated on the progress of this movement as well in the coming months.




 

Colorado Cowboy

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I an sure glad I hunted Wyoming in the "good" days in the past 45 years. I don't have any points for the Big 5, but do for deer and antelope. If Wyoming goes to a 90/10 tag allocation for deer, elk and antelope, I may never get to hunt there again. I am 80 years old now and guess I will benefit some if Colorado makes some similar changes.

What really bothers me is that the politicians don't seem to care what their legislation does to the wildlife departments. As pointed out, if changes to the rest of the big game tag structure like what happened to the "big 5", the resident hunters will surely have to pony up lots more money to keep the F & G solvent as I am sure the legislature won't raise taxes to do it.

As far as my home state of Colorado goes, they will be in a world of hurt if they do away with OTC tags. Our Parks & Wildlife Department is what the state call an "enterprise" operation. It is totally self funded and gets no state funding.
 
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JimP

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Politicians bend to the will of those who elect them, in this case the Wyoming resident hunters.

The Politicians showed that they don't care about the dollars that the non residents spend a few years ago when they told the DWR that they had to be self supporting and wouldn't be getting any money from the legislature.

It would be interesting to see a spread sheet on just what the difference in dollars is going to be now that they have cut the NR tags..
 

mallardsx2

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Jul 8, 2015
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What a joke.

Nothing like duping thousands of non-residents with a ponzi scheme to rob them of their hard earned money and slam the door in their face. I hope NR's form a class action lawsuit and bankrupt Game and Fish.

At the end of the day I am just super happy that the residents now have a .02% more of a chance to draw a "big 5" tag. lol


That is all.
 

HuskyMusky

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Nov 29, 2011
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Say for Moose/sheep....if they only issue 1 Non-res tag, will that go to max points or random?
 

HuskyMusky

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Say for Moose/sheep....if they only issue 1 Non-res tag, will that go to max points or random?
I sometimes wonder.... if when WY figures out how much $$$ they're leaving on the table.... ie. if they just charged the non-res tag fee for all the tags, and put everyone in 1 pool, what residents would think of that?

If 10% of non-res tags generates 100% of resident tags...

20% would generate twice as much $$ and so forth...

I know they have to answer to the resident voters I assume....although maybe they don't...
 

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
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Feb 3, 2014
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I sometimes wonder.... if when WY figures out how much $$$ they're leaving on the table.... ie. if they just charged the non-res tag fee for all the tags, and put everyone in 1 pool, what residents would think of that?

If 10% of non-res tags generates 100% of resident tags...

20% would generate twice as much $$ and so forth...

I know they have to answer to the resident voters I assume....although maybe they don't...
We will see other fees go up to cover the difference. For instance, application fees go up a couple bucks, then fishing licenses and so on and so forth until the budget differences get made up for.
 
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Muley bound

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Mar 12, 2013
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I have no skin in the game for Wyoming, but this is just a slap in the nuts!!!! I feel terrible for the guys who have been paying for and trying to build points for the last 10, 15, 20 years. That’s a lot of hard earned money put towards a dream for some that’ll never happen now. I understand residents have priority over non residents, but it would seem to me that a lot of people are just going to say screw and not put any more money into Wyoming. That’s a big revenue loss for the state.
 

Mr Drysdale

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Mar 24, 2013
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The money paid for the nonresident tags is a drop in the bucket compared to the money spent in the state while there. I hunted Wyoming this past fall and spent a lot more money while there than I paid for the tag/license. Multiply that times the out of state hunters that wont be coming. It will be a hit on a lot of local economies. Glad I was able to come. Enjoyed the successful hunt and the great people I met while there. Beautiful part of our world.
 

Rich M

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Oct 16, 2012
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Im hoping for 1 more antelope hunt. Thats it.

will walk away after that, not to return except for the parks some day w wife when we retire.

yall win.
 
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D_Dubya

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Aug 8, 2012
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NR hunting as many of you more seasoned guys have known it will no longer exist, it won’t be over but multiple tags/species/states per year will be over. Guys over 50 who got into it early had some great opportunities, guys in their 30’s and 40’s now still have enough time to get some points to hunt a few times…if you’re in the 20 year old crowd you need to either move to a western state or make a ton of $ if you want to hunt the west. The resource just cannot handle the additional pressure of NR’s and exploding human populations in mountain states.
Sucks, but that’s the way it is.

Can’t blame Wyoming for wanting to keep their few remaining M/S/G tags for their residents, at the rate of population decline in those species it seems hunting will no longer be feasible in any case in another decade or so, might as well have them killed by the folks who live there.
 

Colorado Cowboy

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I agree with lots of what has been written, but the real problem is the people who have been buying points for years. They got punched in the gut. Lets say someone is 35 years old and has 10 to 15 sheep points in the bank. They probably won't draw a tag and get a chance to hunt a ram until they are just too old to chase one up and down the mountain. Somehow Wyoming has to come up with a process to make it right for hunters who have invested lots of $$$ for point under the old system.
 

tim

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Jun 4, 2011
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I understand i have a completely different take on things than 90% of the people out there. always have, with that said, i have lots of sheep points in states i never expect to draw in. you still have a chance, albiet a small one, but you still have a chance. The resource is so scarce i actually never expect to draw, but if you don't play the game, you will never have a chance.

i think most people expected to get something with the points, not more chances. nonresidents cans till get tags, just not as many. What are the mountain western states supposed to do with so many new residents? people keep flocking in, there is only so many animals and places to hunt.

unfortunatly this article, like most Eastmans articles is the sky is always falling and the end is near.
 
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Colorado Cowboy

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I understand i have a completely different take on things than 90% of the people out there. always have, with that said, i have lots of sheep points in states i never expect to draw in. you still have a chance, albiet a small one, but you still have a chance. The resource is so scarce i actually never expect to draw, but if you don't play the game, you will never have a chance.

i think most people expected to get something with the points, not more chances. nonresidents cans till get tags, just not as many. What are the mountain western states supposed to do with so many new residents? people keep flocking in, there is only so many animals and places to hunt.

unfortunatly this article, like most Eastmans articles is the sky is always falling and the end is near.
I understand i have a completely different take on things than 90% of the people out there. always have, with that said, i have lots of sheep points in states i never expect to draw in. you still have a chance, albiet a small one, but you still have a chance. The resource is so scarce i actually never expect to draw, but if you don't play the game, you will never have a chance.

i think most people expected to get something with the points, not more chances. nonresidents cans till get tags, just not as many. What are the mountain western states supposed to do with so many new residents? people keep flocking in, there is only so many animals and places to hunt.

unfortunatly this article, like most Eastmans articles is the sky is always falling and the end is near.
I don't have any idea how much you have invested in sheep points in all the states that have hunts, but I am sure it would be enough for a nice down payment on an Alaskan or Canadian sheep hunt.

As far as Eastman articles, IMHO they have to do something to get our attention to a situation that effects our hunting opportunities. In that respect, they do that for sure!
 

BuzzH

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Apr 15, 2015
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I agree with lots of what has been written, but the real problem is the people who have been buying points for years. They got punched in the gut. Lets say someone is 35 years old and has 10 to 15 sheep points in the bank. They probably won't draw a tag and get a chance to hunt a ram until they are just too old to chase one up and down the mountain. Somehow Wyoming has to come up with a process to make it right for hunters who have invested lots of $$$ for point under the old system.
Even before 90-10 if you were 35 and had 10-15 points and expecting to draw a sheep tag in Wyoming in your life....you flunked 3rd grade math.

There was never a promise of a tag to anyone. What everybody was buying was a point, which everyone that purchased one received. Nobody forced anyone to apply or purchase a point...end of story.

As to the article, so poorly written and full of misinformation it's tough to know where to start.

The one part of the article I agree with, it is the most poorly written and worse fact checked article I'll read this year. Will be tough to top that...
 
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BuzzH

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Apr 15, 2015
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Well millions of people must have flunked 3rd grade math, they buy lottery tickets every week!

As a resident you have your opinions and I have mine as a nonresident. Wyoming is flunking Hunter Relations 101.
You aren't being forced to hunt here...Wyoming should look out for it's residents first.
 
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