Gingery pulls trigger on bison legislation
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: December 15, 2012
Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, is pushing a bill that would make it cheaper and easier for nonresidents to shoot Wyoming bison.
House Bill 41 would maintain the once-in-a-lifetime limit for hunters seeking to shoot male bison, but it would open the door for more hunters to shoot females, Gingery said.
“The concern is that we’re not knocking them down fast enough,” he said Thursday.
Existing law requires nonresidents to pay $2,500 for all bison licenses. Gingery’s proposal would lower that fee to $1,000 for licenses to kill female bison. Residents would still pay only $400 for a male bison license.
The lower price tag should help alleviate some of the concerns of out-of-state hunters who say the fee is too high now.
“Nonresidents aren’t coming to shoot our bison because it’s just too expensive,” Gingery said, “and they can do it for much cheaper at a lot of these private ranches in Montana.”
If approved, Gingery’s bill would take effect next July.
Hunters still won’t be allowed to shoot more than one male bison in their lifetimes under the proposed bill. They would, however, be allowed to shoot a female every five years.
“Most of the people who want to shoot a bison have done it,” Gingery said.
Providing the opportunity to shoot another one could entice more hunters to apply for a license, he said. Additionally, it would train hunters’ sights on females, which drive the population, Gingery said.
“It’s the cows you really want,” he said.
Wyoming Game and Fish employees issued 410 bison permits this year — 300 for cows or calves and 110 “either sex” tags that allow hunters to shoot bulls.
Last year, 227 hunters participated in the hunt. They shot 101 bulls, 86 cows and seven calves.
“If we don’t control the numbers, we could sometime in the future have too big of a herd,” Gingery said. That could affect other species.
Hunting on the National Elk Refuge started in 2007, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service finished a management plan for bison and elk. The plan called for those agencies to reduce the number of bison to roughly 500, down from 1,200.
Aerial surveys conducted last winter counted 910 bison.