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CHEYENNE -- Various aspects of hunting, fishing, trapping and boating were affected by laws passed during the 2001Wyoming Legislature. The legislature also clarified the peace officer status of game wardens, appropriated $200,000 to research diseases that co-afflict wildlife and livestock and recommended to the U.S. Congress a trust fund be established to assist western states with grizzly bear and wolf management. Hunters will be prohibited from baiting big game animals. Scents or chemical attractants will remain legal. The firearm law was also modified to allow turkey hunters to use .22 magnum, centerfire or muzzleloading handguns in addition to rifles. Both laws become effective July 1. "Although big game baiting had not become widespread yet in Wyoming, the practice was growing and so was the outcry against it," said Bill Wichers, G&F deputy director of external operations. "The new law will help project a positive hunting image for Wyoming." For anglers, minnow seining/trapping permits will be reduced to $15, the same cost as a resident fishing license, beginning in 2002. All licensed Wyoming nursing homes have been added to the list of institutions whose residents have free fishing privileges, when issued a special permit by the institution. Beginning July 1, not only traps but also snares must be permanently marked with the user^s name and address or an identification number assigned by the G&F. The law also specifies size and break-away specifications for snares and limits the use, size and placement of exposed trapping bait. Many watercraft statutes were examined by the Legislature to make Wyoming laws similar to surrounding states. Starting next year, any boat powered by propulsion machinery, including any size internal combustion or electric motor, must be registered. It will also become a violation to use a watercraft to elude a peace officer and remove the hull identification number. Motorboats must be equipped, maintained and operated to prevent excessive noise, and there will be new requirements for reporting watercraft accidents. The Legislature also officially restored the limited peace officer status to game wardens that was clouded by a 1999 Wyoming Supreme Court ruling. The new law solidifies game wardens^ authority to enforce wildlife and boating laws and regulations, felonies they encounter in the line of duty, enforce arrest warrants and to assist other law enforcement agencies upon request. Wildlife and livestock should be the beneficiary of the $200,000 the Legislature appropriated to research diseases that vex both classes of animals. The Wyoming Wildlife/Livestock Disease Partnership Act establishes a board that decides what studies to fund, providing matching funds are also available for the project. The U.S. Congress is being urged by the Wyoming Legislature to establish a $40 million Northern Rocky Mountain Grizzly Bear and Gray Wolf Management Trust. The resolution requests that interest from the account be used to help Wyoming, Montana and Idaho manage grizzly bears and wolves, which are species of high national interest and expensive management costs. "The Legislature addressed many of the pressing needs of sportsmen and the Game and Fish Department," Wichers said. "It was a successful session for wildlife and the recreationists that enjoy the resource."

Uploaded: 3/11/2001