The University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are collaborating on a study that will evaluate the economic effects of hunting and fishing in Albany County, one of several similar studies looking at recreation in counties throughout the state.
“What we’re really trying to do is just try to estimate how much hunters and anglers spend in Albany County,” said UW Professor David “Tex” Taylor, a member of the university’s department of agricultural and applied economics. “And right now, we’re waiting for data to do that, so we haven’t gotten very far along on that, but we should be getting the data shortly, and we can look at some estimates.”
The study was commissioned by the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, which intends to present the data prior to the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners’ Dec. 1 vote on the controversial Bonander Ranches, LLC land exchange proposal. If approved, the exchange would trade nearly 1,041 acres of land in northern Albany County, between Esterbrook and Bear Creek roads, for 295 acres of privately-owned land in eastern Crook County.
Many residents and organizations — including the Wyoming Wildlife Federation — have criticized the potential trade, expressing concern it would eliminate public access to adjacent state lands, take away recreational opportunities in these areas and hinder wildlife management.
The Albany County hunting and fishing study will likely involve data from the 2015 calendar year, Taylor said.
“For hunting, we use Game and Fish hunt area data and try to get the hunter days, broken out by resident and nonresident,” he said. “And so that kind of gives us the quantity. And then, for expenditures, we use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s estimates for Wyoming on what hunters spend. And for fishing, we use fishing license sales by county, and then we go to, you know, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates on what anglers spend.”
Taylor has worked on hunting and fishing studies for other Wyoming counties as part of the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative. To date, he has completed studies for Park and Sweetwater counties, he said, noting the Sweetwater study was specifically requested by that county’s board of commissioners.
The Park County study indicated in 2015, hunters spent about $12.7 million and anglers about $10.6 million, for a total of roughly $23.4 million. In comparison, during that same timeframe, hunters in Sweetwater County spent about $5.4 million and anglers about $8.7 million, amounting to approximately $14.2 million.
According to Albany County fishing license sales data from the state game and fish department, more than 137,000 licenses were issued from 2011-2015: 20,011 resident annual licenses, 1,391 resident youth annual licenses, 12,825 resident daily licenses, 7,916 non-resident annual licenses, 1,150 non-resident youth annual licenses, and 94,434 non-resident daily licenses.
Renny MacKay, Wyoming Game and Fish communications director, said Taylor would be collaborating with the department’s GIS, or geographic information systems services, to conduct the study.
“Our hunt areas don’t follow county boundaries,” MacKay said. “They follow other boundaries, so it’s a little bit challenging … this hunt area in Albany County, it also goes into Carbon County a little bit, so that’s been part of the work that Tex had to work on a little bit, with some GIS people, to make sure to get the best analysis possible.”