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First Wyoming Sportsperson Conservation Forum set for this week

A lone mule deer runs across a four-lane highway, with one car stopped to let it pass. The road goes through a small town, with a few buildings on one side of the road and snowy mountains in the background.
Hannah Habermann
Wyoming Public Media
A mule deer runs across the road in Dubois. Highway 26 east and west of the town are particularly deadly for deer and costly for people, and agencies are working to build new overpasses and an underpass to help reduce the number of accidents in that area.

Gov. Mark Gordon is hosting the first-ever Wyoming Sportsperson Conservation Forum on May 22 at the National Museum of Military Vehicles in Dubois. Wyoming Game & Fish, wildlife experts and sportspeople from around the state will get a chance to put their heads together about some of the biggest conservation issues facing the state.

The inaugural event will cover a whole host of topics, like mule deer management, migration corridors and wildlife crossings. The agenda features panels like “Celebrating our Hunting Heritage: Perspectives On Ethics, Fair Chase and What Hunting Means to Wyoming” and “Wyoming’s Need to Address Invasives and Feral Horses: Two of Wildlife’s Most Pressing Threats.”

Sara DiRienzo is the wildlife policy advisor for Gordon. She said the event was created with the intent of bringing many different stakeholders together and developing shared goals.

“This will just be a platform for having some of those discussions and facilitating a really thoughtful dialogue and exchange of ideas as we chart the future when it comes to some of these stickier policy areas,” she said.

DiRienzo said the forum is meant to inspire the sportsperson community to help shape policies around these important conservation issues – and to hear what kind of on-the-ground solutions Wyomingites want moving forward.

“The best policy is not made with one voice, but the blending of many. We've seen that time and time again when it comes to wildlife issues and Game and Fish has been a leader on that,” she said.

Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communication director, added that the forum was designed with input from conservation groups and advocates who’ve been sinking their teeth into these policy issues for a long time.

“They were able to identify some topics that are going to continue to be at the forefront of management challenges in the next few years,” he said. “The government wants to continue working on those issues.”

For Pearlman, successfully addressing wildlife issues in the past has required partnerships among state agencies, nonprofits, community members and advocates. He said the forum is part of an effort to continue that sort of teamwork.

“We're lucky here in Wyoming that we do have a lot of input and collaboration. It speaks to the size of our state and the accessibility of state government, that policymakers are approachable and accessible for the organizations and the public who do care and do make a difference,” he said.

There’s definitely an appetite for these sorts of conversations – the event’s 350 seats are already reserved. There isn’t an option to tune in virtually, but the Governor’s office plans to follow up with the public about what was discussed at the forum.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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