June 28 was the last day to apply for leftover deer, elk and antelope tags in Wyoming. Everyone, even residents, have to apply for leftover tags.
There are limited number of leftover tags available, so essentially, this is a limited quota draw. But, unlike all other limited draw hunting tags, there is no resident hunter preference for leftover tags.
This needs to change.
Already, Wyoming is the most liberal western state in terms of nonresident tag allocation:
• Wyoming gives 25 percent of its bighorn sheep tags to nonresidents. Montana? 10 percent, but if fewer then 10 tags are offered for that area, nonresidents can’t draw.
• Wyoming gives 25 percent mountain goat tags to nonresidents. Idaho? 10 percent, but if fewer then 10 tags are offered for that area, nonresidents can’t draw.
• Wyoming gives 20 percent of it’s moose tags to nonresidents. Nevada? 10 percent.
• Wyoming gives 20 percent of its limited quota deer tags to nonresidents. Utah? 10 percent.
• Wyoming gives 16 percent of its limited area elk tags to nonresidents. New Mexico? 10 percent
• Wyoming gives 20 percent of its antelope tags to nonresidents. Montana? 10 percent, but if fewer then 10 tags are offered for that area, nonresidents can’t draw.
Wyoming nonresident hunting tag allocation needs to come down the 10 percent or lower level offered by surrounding states. But as bad as this is for resident hunters, Wyoming’s sale of leftover tags is worse.
Wyoming resident hunters have no preference. In the leftover draw which begins next week, resident hunters compete with nonresidents equally for these leftover tags.
Just last year the Wyoming Game & Fish Department went to a draw system for leftover tags. Before that, leftover deer, elk and antelope tags were sold first-come, first serve through license selling agents and the WDGF website. But still, there was no resident preference. Nonresidents could and did get on their computers and started buying leftover tags once they were opened up on the G&F website.
We like the way New Mexico does it. New Mexico offers its leftover tags in an over the counter system like Wyoming used to ... but with one significant difference. New Mexico residents get a 24-hour head start. For the first 24 hours leftover tags are available for sale, only New Mexico residents can purchase them. After this 24-hours is up, the leftover tags are available to everyone to purchase, regardless of residency.
Help us get this changed.
Contact your State Representative, State Senator and Game & Fish Commission member and tell him or her Wyoming needs to lower its nonresident hunting tag allocation overall, and give Wyoming residents preference for leftover tags.
(Rob Shaul is the founder of Mountain Pursuit, a western-state hunting advocacy non-profit based in Jackson.)