The loss of approximately 1,200 acres of private land for hunting access is a good reminder for sportsmen to always respect lands enrolled in the Game and Fish Department’s public access program.
A Goshen County landowner removed a 1,200-acre parcel of land from the Walk-In Hunting Access program after a gate was left open and his cattle escaped. The property, which was part of Goshen County Walk-In Hunting Access #75, has been removed from the website and signs marking the property will be removed soon. Another parcel of land in Goshen County #75, and two parcels of land in Platte County #75 were not affected and remain open to the public.
“Over the Labor Day weekend, a gate was left open on the property and their cows escaped into neighboring property and intermixed with the neighbor’s cows,” said Jason Sherwood, access coordinator for the Game and Fish Department’s Laramie Region. “This was a really inopportune time, as the rancher had a pending appointment to pregnancy check their cows as part of a sale.”
Sherwood said the landowner also expressed frustration about a load of trash that was dumped on the same property several years ago. “Between that memory, and this current event, he was too upset to allow the property to remain in the access program,” Sherwood said. He said the access program encounters few abuses across the state, but when they do occur, the landowners never forget them. “One bad experience can outweigh countless good experiences, and it is ultimately up to hunters and anglers to be on their utmost behavior when using these lands,” he said.
Private lands, and in some instances, state lands, enrolled as Walk-In Access are open to hunting for the species and time periods specified in the WGFD’s online Walk-An Area Atlas https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Public-Access/Walk-In-Hunting. A permission slip is not required to access these lands for hunting or fishing purposes; however the species, time periods, travel restrictions and other rules applicable to each specific Walk-In Area will vary. The remaining open parcels of Walk-In Access #75 are open to hunt sharp-tailed grouse, doves, rabbits, pronghorn antelope and deer.
Hunters are reminded to check the Walk-In and Hunter Management Area links on the department website frequently to ensure their maps and rules are up-to-date. While large changes such as this don’t happen frequently during the hunting season, it is critical for hunters to abide by all current rules, signs, and posted areas.
Please report any violations or suspicious behavior you observe while hunting or fishing on these lands to 1-877-WGFD-TIP. “Serving as a good witness helps landowners differentiate between the good hunters, who appreciate the access programs, from the poachers and vandals who also utilize rural areas,” Sherwood said.