Grizzly bear management and Wyoming Game and Fish employee health insurance will be covered out of the state’s general fund in future budget cycles. The Legislature passed a bill that sidesteps their refusal to raise hunting and fishing licenses fees by allowing the agency to request state funding for those programs. Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott says it will free up about $7 million.
“It will certainly allow the [Game and Fish] Commission the flexibility to allocate monies to different areas. If we can augment [grizzly bear management and health insurance] with general funds, then those Commission dollars, those sportsmen's dollars, can be allocated to research and habitat and access -- those types of programs.”
Talbott adds that not everything that was cut in recent years because of budget constraints is returning though.
“There’s been a significant amount of restructuring and reorganization within the agency, specifically in the headquarters office between our services and fiscal division. We have no intention whatsoever of going back and redoing that. There have been a number of positions that have been eliminated and we do not plan on going back and reinstating those positions.”
The bill only allows the department to request the funding, it doesn’t actually allocate it, although members of the Joint Appropriations Committee say they intend to fund the request.
Gov. Mead needs to sign the bill in order for it to take effect.