Public access may be threatened by poor hunter behavior
by Wyoming Game & Fish
September 13, 2010
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s public access program, commonly known as the Private Lands Public Wildlife program, has been in place for over ten years. Unfortunately, irresponsible individuals threaten area closures by breaking the simplest of rules—off road travel.
"With the 2010 hunting season just getting under way I have already received three complaints from landowners: two regarding individuals driving off road and one for interfering with ranch operations," said Dan Smith, Cody region access coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Smith said that driving off designated roads is probably the most common and flagrant violation. "Driving across farm fields and leaving ruts, driving over and crushing irrigation pipe, and around closed road signs and barricades create hard feelings with the landowners who voluntarily participate in the access program," Smith said.
"It only takes one or two unethical hunters to completely close an area to public hunting, and in fact it has," Smith said. "In 2009, the actions of a couple hunters who built blinds and shot nearby residences caused the landowner to close two areas in the Pitchfork Hunter Management Area."
According to Smith, the future of the access program hinges on the ability of hunters to respect landowners and their ranchland by adhering to walk-in area and hunter management ranch rules while hunting on private property. This year alone, the department’s access program will provide hunters with 93 Walk-In Areas representing over 53,000 acres of private property, and nine Hunter Management Areas comprising over 227,000 acres of private and land-locked public land access.