A few short years ago, SFW was organized in Wyoming in 2003. Of the statewide goals, two dealt with species that were listed as Threatened or Endangered - the grizzly bear and the gray wolf.
In 2007, we saw the impossible happen! The USFWS finally removed the grizzly bear from this dubious designation. Wolves were soon removed from this infamous list as well. We had anticipated that hunting of the wolves would have started by 2010 and for a short time in 2008, Wyoming residents were able to harvest wolves as preditors outside of their protected areas. It only took one lone, liberal judge to rule an injunction against the delisting and now we are forced to prepare for more battles in the courtrooms in our efforts to move the delisting forward. More than likely, our resolve and determination will be greatly tested to see how deep our commitments are in restoring hunting of these two species.
Volunteers answered the calls and contacted your legislators regarding the HB213 in Legislature Session in February, 2008 - which succeeded in helping Wyoming secure its dual status wolf management plan. Those who twice drove to Cody, Wyoming, to voice their support of the delisting process or sent in their comments supporting the delisting of the gray wolf, need to be commended by everyone else who continues to enjoy hunting in this state. Many of these folks were the same ones who took time from their very busy schedules to attend the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission meeting in Thermopolis, Wyoming, where the plan was finally approved. More than likely, it will probably be these same individuals who will once again be the ones to help address the many other issues that threaten to impact our hunting heritage. A huge "thanks" goes out to each of you. You are appreciated!
Now is not the time for Wyoming's Sportsmen to become complacent - nor return to a state of apathy. We must continue to grow our membership, strengthen our voice and be ever vigilant about those who seek to end hunting and the precious heritages we presently enjoy. There is now talk that the very species the sportsmen have enjoyed to hunt, will be the next endangered victims - as the wolves continue to decimate our ungulates.
Many issues still remain to be addressed and new ones loom ominously on the horizon. A few are mentioned below:
- Several hunting and angling programs have been cut or eliminated because our hunting and angling dollars are being diverted to non-game programs. We are and will continue to be, diligent in addressing this situation. The ESA needs to be reigned in or revised so that special interest groups cannot manipulate it for their ends.
- Elk feedgrounds continue to be threatened. This continues even though no one is certain of the outcome of such actions on elk numbers or other wildlife. And this, in light of the fact that elk numbers are drastically reduced in the areas most affected by wolf over-predation.
- Mule deer and antelope numbers continue to be significantly lower than objectives in other areas of the state - with little, if any, effort being made to recover or restore them.
- The list of issues is large and long. And believe it or not, many new ones are certain to arise.
The SFW model does work! That fact has been proven time and time again. However, it does not work without its members engaging in critical issues. Many Wyoming counties do not yet have a seat at the SFW table. Each chapter is allotted representation on the Wyoming State SFW Board of Directors.
Hopefully, these chapters yet-to-be, are beginning to recognize the value of what happens when Sportsmen unite for a common cause. The strength of a grassroots organization is also the very thing that can be its Achilles heel. The success we have achieved has been accomplished with approximately 1/5 of the membership we could have in the state of Wyoming! It's not about the money. In fact the $30 membership fee barely covers the magazine and other related costs, but it is all about membership. Can you imagine the influence 15,000 to 20,000 SFW members could collectively have across this state?
Wyoming is fortunate to have such a high percentage of its citizens who hunt and/or fish. However, few organizations or individuals are willing to take a stance on difficult and politically charged issues. SFW remains committed to addressing these issues and finding solutions to ensure that Wyoming's hunting and fishing heritage is something worth passing on to future generations.
If you are interested in forming a chapter in your area, please use our contact form "CLICK HERE" on our site and a Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife representative will be contacting you soon. We have a committed staff who will walk you through every step of the process of creating a new chapter. Won't you consider stepping up and seeing a chapter get off the ground in your area?