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Bill would give Wyoming game wardens more authority in trespassing conflicts

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Wenjing Xu
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A draft bill in the state legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee would give Wyoming game wardens more authority to issue trespassing tickets. It has wide support from both recreation and landowning interests and will move onto the full legislative session in 2023.

The bill details language around when a game warden can cite people. Currently, a sheriff’s deputy has to arrive on-scene in many cases, which can take a long time in compared to responses from Game & Fish. The draft language says wardens can issue a ticket when someone is “traveling through” private property illegally.

Luke Weddle of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers told lawmakers the bill benefits honest hunters by eliminating red tape and resolving conflicts quicker.

“These clear lines that we draw help to distinguish hunters from another group that I would consider poachers,” he said. “We like to be differentiated from them because they kind of just make us look bad in general.”

During debate, lawmakers clarified the bill’s language so it wouldn’t become entangled with the current controversy surrounding corner crossings. “Traveling through” in this case is defined as stepping foot or driving over the surface of private property.

The Judiciary Committee voted to move forward the draft bill by a wide margin.

Will Walkey is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.