************* PLEASE WATCH ****************
On July 7 and 8, the Wyoming Game & Fish hosted Commission meetings in Pinedale, Wyoming, to discuss and implement new or revised rules and regulations pertaining to several different areas overseen by the department. I went over to represent and speak on behalf of the Wyoming Federation of Houndsmen, because the commission was going to be voting on new recommendations surrounding mountain lion issues.
I have to say, I am very much disgusted by the lack of interest displayed by the commission pertaining to concerns brought up by the houndsmen of this state and even the presentation made by the mountain lion biologist. Sitting through over seven hours of meetings on Friday, I saw commissioners raise issues and ask questions of every presentation made by department personnel and even many of the public speakers, but when it came to mountain lions, all I heard were crickets. NOT ONE SINGLE QUESTION. That spoke volumes to this writer.
I understand there are many factors at play when it comes to the management of mountain lions, but when you have people speaking on behalf of the one group who actually want sound management, a person would think the commission could feign enough interest to atleast ask a question or two. I was fully prepared to speak further in depth about our concerns, but all I got was a, "Thank You".
It is very important that the houndsmen of this state atleast watch the part of this video where members of the public get up to speak. I speak immediately following G&F Biologist, Justin Clapp, but the important one to watch is Sy Gilliland, of the Wyoming Outfitters Association. In his statement to the commission, he said he was not even planning on speaking and you can see him get up to go and get a blue slip (the paper one must fill out before being given the floor to speak) just as soon as I reach the podium and start speaking. This man is NOT a friend of houndsmen and in speaking with him after the meeting, apparently neither is the Wyoming Outfitters Association. I do not necessarily believe that, but when you have a man looking you directly in the eye saying he wants ALL of the lions gone and he is speaking on behalf of the outfitters, you have to take him at his word. He allowed how hunter overcrowding was a "Self Correcting" problem, because all of the extra hunters would insure that more lions were killed and once all of the lions were gone, we would not have to deal with over crowding issues any longer. I had a few choice words for him and his solutions. He then said that we should all try and work together, but I got the feeling that he was looking for a one sided relationship. I informed him that we houndsmen could not see how any sort of discussions would show positive results as long as one side came to the table looking for a total decimation of a game species. I was very polite about things, but I let it be known that houndsmen are tired of being the red headed step-child of all the sportsmen's groups. He also insisted that the outfitters would actively fight and oppose any legislation that houndsmen of this state may bring forth to help insure our rights as sportmen.
Dan Thompson, Head Carnivore Biologist, Wy G&F 6:14:30
Justin Clapp, Mountain Lion Biologist, Wy G&F Immediately following Dan Thompson
Tex Adams, Wyoming Federation of Houndsmen, 6:49:40
Immediately following me are -
JD Downer, Wyoming Houndsmen Association
Penny Maldanado, Cougar Fund ( She actually thanked me for the work houndsmen are doing to help insure a healthy lion population)
Sy Gilliland, Wyoming Outfitters Association
I spoke again after, Sy, to clarify that houndsmen only want a healthy population that is managed by sound science.
Below is the text of the speech I read and presented to the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the commission for allowing me to speak here today.
My name is, Tex Adams, and I am here as a representative of the Wyoming Federation of Houndsmen. Whether it was for sport, or to protect livestock from predators, Wyoming has a long and storied history involving hound hunting pursuits. The Wyoming Federation of Houndsmen is an organization that acts as a voice for hound hunters from ever corner of this state. Unlike other groups who would like to see large predators entirely wiped out, or those who would like to see them completely left alone with no management whatsoever, the houndsmen of this state hope to suggest and help implement sound scientific and common sense practices, so that we may all enjoy Wyoming's wildlife resources.
Houndsmen have been working since early this year to bring forth ideas and suggestions that will help protect and promote the mountain lion as a trophy game animal and create more quality hunting opportunities for those who pursue this game species. Unfortunately, we have been met with discouraging hurdles and opposition almost every step of the way. It is my understanding, that almost half of the public comments received by the Game & Fish Department concerning mountain lion issues, have been directly related to those proposals we have brought before the department. It has been our desire to work directly with the Game & Fish representatives in the field as well as those in upper management and on the commission, to see some positive change. But, we have been told some of those changes were introduced too late and were impossible to implement due to a lack of authority granted to this commission. With your permission, I would like to read off those proposals and hopefully we can find a positive direction in which to proceed without having to go the legislative route.
In the Northeast Mountain Lion Management Region, and more specifically Hunt Area 1, we have been facing major issues of severe congestion. This problem not only affects Mountain Lion Hunters, but also those in pursuit of other large game species , as well as area ranchers and residents. Hunt areas in the northeast part of the state are highly desirable for nonresidents as these are the first and best areas most hunters come to when travelling in from out of state. We are also having to face and deal with large amounts of traffic from residents of our neighboring states. Many times, hunters are coming over in the middle of the night to start looking for tracks and upon finding one, they will telephone others, who then go and buy the nonresident tag so that they may pursue and harvest the lion. More often than not, there will be parties of non resident hunters with 5 and up to 10 vehicles of people involved with a single lion pursuit while only one or possibly two of those hunters hold a valid mountain lion tag.
It is our belief that these problems can be alleviated by implementing a limited nonresident subquota and requiring each hunter who is actively involved in a hunt to have a tag.
The nonresident sub-quota will most likely be reached very early in the season which will drastically cut down on traffic. And the requirement of all hunters actively involved in a hunt to have a valid tag is no different that the regulation requiring a fishing license.
Just like other states who allow hound hunting of large carnivores, the houndsmen of Wyoming would like to work with the, Game & Fish, to implement a pursuit, or training, season. Specifically, once a hunt area reaches its quota, we would like to see it remain open until the scheduled end of season for training and pursuit only by licensed resident hunters. As a whole, houndsmen are more concerned with training and making better hounds than they are with harvesting their quarry and we feel this would help many cats learn a healthy fear of man as well as allow some to mature enough to reach trophy quality.
Last, but probably most important, we would like to have implemented, a requirement for prospective license purchasers, to pass a short online course and test in order to learn how to properly determine the sex of lions. It is our hope that this will help eliminate the unintended harvest of females with dependent young.
Again, I would like to thank the commission for allowing me this opportunity to bring these concerns before you today.
I was approached by no less than four different G&F personnel both before and after the meeting, telling me what a bad idea it would be to pursue any type of solution by going the legislative route. I was warned that I could damage any sort of future relationship houndsmen might hope to have with the Wyoming Game & Fish as well as the Commission. I was also warned that the legislative route might open up a can of worms that might be hard to contain. It was also said that going around the commission, or the usurpation of their authority could lead to bigger problems, This was said, eventhough the Commission actually doesn't have the authority to address some of our concerns. As a matter of fact, Commission Vice President, Keith Culver, said the only solution he could see was through the legislature. And by another department representative, I was basically given an, "Atta-Boy" and told that houndsmen should keep at it and maybe we could make some progress when lion issues were brought up again in three years.
I informed every single one of those department personnel, the houndsmen of this state have given the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, as well as the Commission, ample opportunity to address, study and discuss among themselves, our concerns and we have been more than willing to seek some sort of solution. With that, I said that any future action to be taken by houndsmen would be/was determined by the commision and the actions they took.
There was ALOT more said to me throughout the day, but you can kind of get the gist of the attitude shared among some department personnel. We have tried to work within the parameters and processes of the department. Almost half of all comments written in to the G&F were directly related to those issues I spoke of in my speech, yet they were barely addressed by the biologist and never discussed whatsoever by the commission. I was told, there has never been so many comments surrounding lion issues, yet they would not even discuss those concerns. Many hours were spent on the phone, and many hundreds of dollars were spent on fuel and hotels to attend meetings around this state to learn the departments stance and reasons behind some of their positions and recommendations, and it all led to absolutely nothing.
We are laying the groundwork for our next move, which will be to start on our legislators. I have a good friend of mine who sits on the board of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, and I have been assured that we can count on help and support from that group. We will be having him come over and address all of the houndsmen we can gather, so that we may learn the best ways to proceed. Now that we are going to have to go the legislative route, we will be going after more than just a few piddly issues. We will make it worth our while.
I would greatly appreciate hearing from EVERY houndsman in this state. We have some big stuff that is going to be shaking loose very quickly and I want to get everyone on the same page. It is time that houndsmen are finally recognized as being a sound management tool when it comes to large predators.
If you wish to discuss these issues, please shoot me a PM and I will give you my telephone number.
Wyoming Federation of Houndsmen
Will we be able to work towards some of the goals we are looking to accomplish for the new regs or will we have to wait till the next go around in 3 years? We need to be thinking about a public spokesman for our group. I think you did a great job and appreciate all the hard work you have put into this, but I think it would be a good idea. And I owe you some fuel money.
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