EDITORIAL: Concerned about Wyoming wildlife? Now's your chance to make your voice heard

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Many Wyomingites care deeply about our state’s natural beauty and rugged terrain. But we’re not just concerned about our state’s clean air, pure water, rural lifestyle, natural resources and wild landscape for ourselves — we care about the animals that roam our mountains, fly across this air and swim through local rivers.

When it comes to how to best manage Wyoming’s wildlife, the range of opinions could span across our wide open state. Grizzly bears and wolves often dominate the public spotlight, as management of these predators has been wrought with controversy for decades. Yet emotions also can run high when it comes to discussions about elk, deer, cutthroat trout and other species in Wyoming.

If you care about wildlife — as a hunter, angler, conservationist, outdoorsman, photographer, rancher or just a citizen of this state — you have the opportunity to share your thoughts about how Wyoming manages its fisheries, wildlife and public programs.

The Wyoming Game and Fish will host a meeting on Friday night from 6-9 p.m. at the Governor’s Room at the Irma Hotel in Cody. The public comments gathered there will help shape a new strategic plan for the department.

“This is your chance to drive the future of Wyoming’s wildlife,” said Scott Talbott, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, in a news release. “We want to offer as many opportunities to be involved so we hope you will attend a meeting or comment online.”

It’s been more than 20 years since this kind of project was done. The last time around, public input helped initiate the department’s Access Yes program, which has opened up private or previously inaccessible land for hunting and fishing.

The Game and Fish’s new strategic plan will influence our state’s wildlife and natural resources for years to come. That’s why it’s important for the department to hear from local residents. Yes, our state attracts tourists and outdoorsmen from around the world, but this plan should be built on input from the Wyomingites who live here and understand the complexities of our rural, wild state.

If you can’t make it to Friday’s meeting, you can share your feedback online at www.wildlifeforum.org. The comments posted on the online forums confirm the wide diversity in public views, especially when it comes to managing wolves and grizzlies.

It is not an easy task to manage Wyoming’s wildlife, nor will it be possible to please everyone. We appreciate the Game and Fish’s hard work, and that department leaders are involving the public in this important process. If you’re concerned about Wyoming’s wildlife, don’t miss out on a chance to help shape the future.

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