The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s public access program, commonly known as the Private Lands Public Wildlife program, is a win-win for both hunters and landowners.
Cody regional access coordinator Dan Smith said that throughout the basin, 83 Walk-In Areas representing more than 51,000 acres and 11 hunter management areas representing more than 244,000 acres of access will be open to hunters this fall. In addition, approximately 10,000 more acres of public land is accessible because of the hunter management areas.
Hunters are reminded that each property has a specific set of rules and that hunter ethics and responsible behavior are imperative to the success of the program.
“If hunters show respect for the land they are hunting on, the landowner is more likely to keep the property open to public access in the future,” Smith said. “Not only is it important to follow the rules, it is important to act responsibly. For example, if the ranch rules state a road is open to vehicle access, but it is so muddy that driving a vehicle down it will cause damage, it would be wise for a hunter to choose not to use the road.”
Walk-in area rules and maps are available online. Unlike Walk-In areas, permission slips are required for Hunter Management Areas and are also available online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/plpwhmprogram/default.aspx.
Access Yes donations are the main source of funding for the Private Lands Public Wildlife program.
“These donations are used strictly for public access; not to pay salaries, buy new equipment, or pay for any other department expense,” Smith said. “We have more landowners interested in joining the program than we have money available. If every license buyer donated just one dollar for every license they purchase or apply for, the annual budget for access could nearly double.”
On average, each dollar donated opens four acres of access.