Mountain Pursuit Recommends Changes to Wyoming Governor Complimentary Big Game License System

By Mountain Pursuit

An in-depth report completed this week analyzing the Wyoming G&F Governor Complimentary License system identified opportunities to increase revenue from the Governor Tag sales, and immediately add up to $1 million to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department general fund.

The report, "Wyoming Governor's Complimentary Big Game License Revenue (2012-2018) and Allocation (2014-2018)" analyzes the current method by which the Governor's Tags are sold, how the revenue is granted for wildlife research and other projects, and who has purchased the Tags over the past decade.

The report was completed by Mountain Pursuit, western-state hunting advocacy nonprofit headquartered in Wyoming.

State statutes gives 25 Complimentary Licenses to the Wyoming Governor annually, 5 each for big horn sheep, moose, elk, deer and bison.

Under the current system, the Governor gifts the Licenses to the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation, which then works with partner hunting nonprofits to sell the tags at annual banquets and events. After administration fees to the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation and sales commissions to the partner nonprofits, ultimately 80% of the revenue generated from the Governor Tag sales is used to fund Wyoming-based biological research, habitat research, habitat improvement and other projects through a grant application and funding administered by the Wyoming Governor's Big Game License Coalition (WGBGLC).

Some key findings from the report:

(1) From 2012 to 2018, the sale auction of Wyoming Governor Tag generated $4.7 million. Of this total, 80%, or approximately $3.8 million went to the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition (WGBGLC) to fund various Wyoming-based wildlife conservation projects.

(2) Twenty percent of the total raised by Governor Tag sales was spent for administrative costs and sales commissions.

(3) Total revenue generated from Governor License sales increased from $505,650 in 2012 to $892,500 in 2018.

(4) Big Horn Sheep Tags generate the greatest revenue. In 2018, the 5 Big Horn Sheep Governor Tags sold for and average of $92,000 each; 5 moose tags sold for an average $36,800; Elk  tags averaged $22,400 and Deer averaged $27,100.

(5) The Wyoming Game & Fish Department submits grant proposals to the WGBGLC and competes with other grant applicants for funding.

(6) The University of Wyoming was the largest recipient of WGBGLC grant funding with $1,214,983, or 37.49% of total WGBGLC grant funds from 2014 to 2018. The second largest recipient for the same time period was the Wyoming G&F Department with $1,165,772, or 35.97%.

(6) Biological Research Projects received the 59% , or $1.9 million of WGBGLC Grant funding between 2014-2018. Habitat Improvement Projects received  23% or $756,840 in WGBGLC grant funding between the same years. The remaining 18% of grant funding was split between purchasing Conservation Easements (6% or $192,584), Habitat Research and Other, miscellaneous  projects.

(7) Nonresidents purchased 198 of the 248 Governor Licenses offered from 2008-2018, or 79.84%. Residents purchased 50 licenses, or 20.16%.

(8) Nine individual hunters have purchased three or more Governor Licenses since 2008, including one current Wyoming G&F Commissioner who has purchased eight Governor Elk Tags. Three individual hunters purchased two bighorn sheep licenses and two individual hunters purchased two or more bison licenses.

(10) Governor Licenses are sold for significantly more revenue per tag than Wyoming Game & Fish Commissioner Licenses. Only deer and elk licenses are offered by both programs. Commissioner Licenses average $10,629 per deer license and $12,232 per elk license. Governor Licenses average $17,632 per deer license and $16,849 per elk license for the 2012-2018 period.

 

The report's authors recommend three changes to the current system:

(1) The Governor's Licenses be directly sold/auctioned by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WDG&F) similar to how the Super Tag and Super Tag Trifecta tags are done currently. This will save administration and sales commission fees.

(2) Revenue from the Governor's License sales go to the WDG&F General Fund.

(3) The WDG&F should create its own research grant application funding system and accept research, habitat improvement and other grant requests from the University of Wyoming and other organizations. This will allow the Game & Fish to centralize, plan and coordinate wildlife research, habitat research, habitat improvement and other conservation efforts based on department priorities and a macro view of wildlife issues in Wyoming.

"We were pleasantly surprised to find the bulk of the revenue from the current Governor License sales going toward Wyoming-based wildlife research and habitat improvements," said Rob Shaul, Mountain Pursuit founder and one of the report's authors.

"However, under the current system, 20% of the annual revenue from Governor Tag sales - upwards of $200,000 year - is being lost to administrative fees and sales commissions," he continued. "As well, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department is having to compete for research and other grant funding from hunting license-sale revenue with the University of Wyoming and other organizations. This is wrong."

"Our recommended changes will make the system more financially efficient, thus increasing revenue from the Governor Tag sales, while still allowing UW and other organizations to apply for research grants directly from the Wyoming Department of Game & Fish."

For more information, email rob@mtnpursuit.org.

Click HERE for a link to the full report.

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