By Rob Shaul, Founder, Mountain Pursuit
Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Utah allot just 10% of their bighorn sheep tags to non residents. Why are we so liberal?
It's not only sheep. Mountain Goat is by regulation, a once-in-a-lifetime hunt for Wyoming residents, but still every year we give 25% of our available mountain goat licenses to nonresidents! Every other western state gives nonresidents just 10% of the available mountain goat tags.
Wyoming allots 20% of it's moose and pronghorn tags to nonresidents. Idaho and Montana offer only 10%, and New Mexico, just 6% for do-it-yourself hunters.
In terms of elk, limited quota full-priced bull tags, only Colorado is more liberal in giving tags to non-residents. Colorado gives 20% of its limited quota elk tags to nonresidents. Wyoming gives 16%. Every other state is 10% or less.
We advocate dropping these nonresident limited quota license allocations to just 5%, for every species: bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, deer, elk, antelope. Further, if there are 15 or fewer tags available for a specific unit, none should go to nonresidents.
How would a 5% nonresident allocation affect bighorn sheep tags?
According to Wyoming Game & Fish Department harvest data, in 2017, 214 bighorn sheep tags were sold, and of these, 56, or 25% went to nonresidents. These 56 tags included 5 Governor tags. 158 tags went to Wyoming residents.
Setting the Governor tags aside, in 2017, 51 bighorn sheep tags went to nonresidents via the draw.
Dropping this down from 25% to 5%, just 11 tags would go to nonresidents, meaning another 40 bighorn sheep tags would go to Wyomingites. In 2017 this would have increased the resident bighorn tag allocation from 158 tags to 198 tags. This is significant!
There is so much demand to in Wyoming hunt bighorn sheep, that under the current allocation, it takes a Wyoming resident between 17 and 23 years of putting in for a tag every year depending on the hunt area, to finally draw a tag. 17-23 years! It's unclear how adding another 20% of the total allocation to the resident draw would affect this time period, but it certainly would not increase it.
Wyoming's wildlife is owned by the residents of Wyoming, and Wyomingites should have a significant preference in harvesting our game. Right now we have the most liberal nonresident license allocation of any western state.
Time for a change.