WGFD: Be safe while boating, wear a life jacket

Wyoming Game and Fish Regional Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Eric Hansen showers a...
Wyoming Game and Fish Regional Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Eric Hansen showers a contaminated boat with 140 degree water killing all remaining invasive zebra and quagga mussels in Casper, Wyo. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (KGWN)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 12:12 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The official kick off of summer in Wyoming is Memorial Day, and that means taking the boat out, maybe for the first time this year. Before hitting the road for the holiday weekend, Game and Fish reminds all boaters — from motorized boaters to paddlers — to be prepared and be sure watercraft are outfitted with the required safety equipment. 

“We want all boaters to safely enjoy Wyoming’s waters. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a life jacket for all of the passengers in your watercraft. It is the law and life jackets are proven to save lives,” said Aaron Kerr, Wyoming Game and Fish watercraft safety program coordinator. “That means you need a life jacket aboard all watercraft including kayaks, canoes and even stand-up paddle boards.”

Boaters are required to have a life jacket available for each individual on board. Life jackets must be properly-sized, U.S. Coast Guard approved, in good condition. They cannot be waterlogged, torn, or have straps broken or missing. Life jackets also need to be readily accessible to the passengers on board. Children 12 years old and under are required to wear a life jacket while the boat is underway unless they are inside an enclosed cabin. Anyone being towed by a boat, wake surfing or riding on a personal watercraft (jet ski) is required to wear a life jacket as well.

“Simply put — life jackets save lives, when they are worn,” said Kerr. “Following the safety rules while boating helps ensure that everyone has fun on the water.” Motorized watercraft required additional safety equipment:

  • A minimum of one U.S. Coast Guard throwable flotation device, which includes ring buoys and float cushions, aboard boats 16 feet and longer.
  • A proper fire extinguisher on any boat with an inboard engine, permanently installed fuel tank, closed living space, double bottoms that are not sealed to the hull or compartments that store fuel tanks or other combustible materials. Multiple extinguishers may be needed depending on the size of the boat.
  • Navigation lights are required when boating from sunset to sunrise. All motorized boats are required to display a red and a green light to represent the port (left) and starboard (right) sides, as well as a white light that is visible 360 degrees when underway. Again, the types of lights required differ based on the size of the boat.

To safely operate a motorized watercraft, all operators must be at least 16 years old, obey any buoys or markers in the water, and avoid reckless or careless operation. Additionally, boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal. 

Boaters are also reminded they need to register their motorized watercraft to be legal when operating on Wyoming waters. This includes boats powered by electric trolling motors. All watercraft, with exception of non-motorized inflatables under ten feet in length, also require an aquatic invasive species decal.   Watercraft registrations can be completed at any Game and Fish office. Registrations may also be renewed online via the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website. The owner is the only person authorized to register a boat.

Watercraft owners may pick up a copy of the Wyoming Watercraft Regulations at any Game and Fish office or license vendor.

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