Could this new fishing task force combat illegal angling issues?
Wyoming is considering forming a new fishing task force that could potentially change angling in the Equality State.
House Bill 0055 is now up for consideration with the Wyoming Legislature. The bill is sponsored by the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee. It would be a strategic plan that would primarily study the impacts of fishing--both recreational and commercial--on the state's most popular river basins.
This would include in-depth analysis "of social and biological impacts of fishing," according to the bill's language. The group would also be tasked with identifying which rivers are currently experiencing the largest increases in fishing traffic. They would accomplish this by looking at historic data.
Task force members would also identify problems with overcrowding and find solutions for such problems. Along those same lines, the task force would identify stretches of river that are already regulating or permitting commercial fishing. They would also make recommendations on where new regulations or permits for those operations may be added.
The proposed task force would also take inventory of river access points used for both recreational and commercial fishing. They would also "identify other uses extrinsic to fishing and habitat conditions that may result in future regulation of fishing or stretches of river," the legislation reads.
Through all of this, the task force would also make recommendations for access limits or new permits and regulations for stretches of river that are determined to be over-fished.
It's a very interesting take on fisheries management. The proposed task force would be made up of approximately 11 members, five of which would be professional fishing guides.
Other members would be a mix of backgrounds including the Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, one member of the Senate and one member from the House of Representatives.
They're also including one person from the Wyoming State Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides.
That last part leads us to think this task force is mostly going to be focused on commercial fishing guide services in the Equality State. Especially since we've never really heard of commercial food fishing in Wyoming.
This task force probably wouldn't be able to stomp out all instances of illegal, unregulated fishing. But it could go a long way to addressing concerns many local anglers may have. Wyoming is a vast, open and empty state. Wildlife law enforcement officials have their hands full protecting our natural resources as it is across the United States.
If anything, it should help to address any previously unreported overcrowding issues. It also probably isn't a bad idea to look more closely at commercial guide services.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of examples of illegal hunting and fishing guides out there. Combating illegal guide operations will mean more business for the legitimate and licensed professionals who will know the regulations inside and out.
It will be interesting to see how much the task force can do. The bill also proposes only $120,000 in funding to Wyoming Game and Fish for the project. That doesn't include an additional $10,000 for travel expenses for the non-legislative members of the task force.
We will keep our eyes and ears on this story and bring you more if it gets approved during the Wyoming egislature's budget session, which won't begin until Feb. 10.