- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - An interim legislative committee has agreed to sponsor a bill that would allow counties to make it illegal to feed wildlife.

The bill recently endorsed by the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee would grant county commissions power to regulate the feeding of wildlife within the county’s boundaries. The proposal would impose up to a $500 fine per offense.

The bill makes an exception for farm and ranch operations under the Wyoming Right to Farm and Ranch Act.

Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker questioned the difficulty in enforcement.

“I haven’t seen the bill, but it would be very concerning to me if we had a bill that would restrict, in any form or fashion, anything to do with wildlife and shoved on local law enforcement,” Hornecker said. “How in the world would you enforce it to start with?”

State Rep. Glenn Moniz, R-Laramie, told The Ranger (https://bit.ly/1I0FkBe) that he offered the bill so that counties could have the same authority as cities in prohibiting feeding wildlife.

“I had a constituent group up in Centennial having trouble with neighbors feeding wildlife, and then they go and chew trees up and destroy property, and the Game and Fish can’t do anything because there isn’t an ordinance,” Moniz said. “It’s a big problem in the state, and I was just representing my constituents, but it would be up for each county to decide.”

Cities and towns can pass ordinances making wildlife feeding illegal.

Game and Fish officials can’t help with a wildlife problem unless there is an ordinance in place, said Game and Fish spokesperson Rene Schell.

“We have no authority,” Schell said. “It would be the police department writing the citations.”

State Sen. Stan Cooper, R-Kemmerer and co-chair of the interim committee, was among those supporting the bill.

“We needed to get it down more toward the local level, to not have the state dictate to the counties or have the cities decide if they are going to allow this,” Cooper said. “And it’s gotten to a point where it’s been a real problem in many areas in the state.”

Cooper said the bill has come up in previous years, but it loses traction when it hits the Legislature.

“(The bills) don’t seem to get through the Legislature. I am not sure why. People just have interesting emotions about whether you should feed wildlife or not feed wildlife,” he said.

Cooper added that he’s aware the law could be hard to enforce, but he said simply having it in place could be enough to deter some people.

The bill will require a two-thirds vote in the house of origin to be considered during next year’s budget session.


Information from: The (Riverton, Wyo.) Ranger, https://www.dailyranger.com

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