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New Policies Hope To Decrease Trespassing And Livestock Deaths For Ranchers

Theo Stein / USFWS

Many ranchers around the West are searching for a way to control a recent increase in livestock killed on the range. At the annual Wyoming Farm Bureau meeting this month, members supported a new policy they hope will address the problem. Farm Bureau spokesman Brett Moline said it’s not clear why people are shooting more livestock.

“We’ve had trouble with people poaching. They just go out and shoot to kill,” said Moline. “We’ve seen it in wildlife. We’ve seen it in livestock. It seems to be getting more prevalent west wide and it’s not just out on private land. It’s when they’re on public land as well, when they’re on the grazing allotments.”

Moline said, now when people are caught killing livestock they are fined and must pay the rancher the market value of the animal. At the meeting, the agency agreed that restitution costs should be more punishing. With the new policy, poachers would be required to pay four times the cost of the animal’s market value instead.

Moline says Wyoming Farm Bureau members also supported another new policy that would expand Wyoming Game and Fish statutes, so their game wardens could help police forest boundaries near private property for trespassing antler hunters.

“The Game and Fish are more knowledgeable about the wildlife. They know where they’re going to congregate during the seasons when they’re shedding their antlers. So this will encourage them to be more active on their patrolling,” said Moline.

Moline said, often times trespassers walk past private property signs without seeing them. He said, by changing the Game and Fish statute the burden would be on the antler hunters to make sure they aren’t trespassing. 

The hope is that the Wyoming Legislature will act on the group’s policy in the near future.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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