The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved a number of budget cuts that will help the agency deal with a seven million dollar shortfall. A number of citizens expressed concern about the budget reductions fearing that they will negatively affect both wildlife and recreation.
Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott says they dropped education programs, eliminated or froze 21 positions, and addressed two key areas.
“We are approached with opportunities for access and acquisition and those are routinely on the commission agenda and we have eliminated that acquisition budget. And Habitat grants have been reduced significantly as well. We very surgically have gone in and made reductions in literally every program in the agency.”
A number of Saratoga residents expressed concern that the cuts could impact a Mule Deer restoration effort, but Talbott said that they will not.
Neil Thagard of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation partnership blames lawmakers for the cuts, noting that the legislature did not approve License Fee increases this session. He is very worried about the impact to hunter access.
“Lose some access, that’s gonna impact hunters and anglers. Which in turn reduces the interest and with loss of interest, there’s a loss of revenue that comes in from those sportsmen.”
Robert Wharff of Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife opposed license fee increases, saying that it would have made hunting and fishing too expensive for some. He said Game and Fish needs to be more efficient.
“We want them to make sure those programs are achieving the goals and objectives and the purpose of those programs.”
The Agency says it has been efficient and the approved cuts will certainly be felt across the state.