BLM: Plan ahead when hunting on public lands

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Release) – The end of summer marks the beginning of hunting seasons in Wyoming and across the country. The BLM Wyoming is committed to facilitating access to public lands for these traditional uses, which contribute millions of dollars of revenue for the State of Wyoming each year. We also encourage all public lands visitors to share in the traditions of stewardship that help keep Wyoming a world-class destinations for hunting, fishing and other recreation.

When visiting public lands, it is vital to be a good neighbor by respecting private property rights and avoiding inadvertent trespass. Land status maps are available at each BLM office for a small printing fee. Please take these maps with you any trip off the beaten track, as well as for navigation across BLM-administered roads. GPS devices can make excellent navigational aids. However, they should be used in conjunction with land status maps, rather than as a substitute. You can find which land status maps cover each Wyoming Game and Fish Department hunt area at wgfd.wyo.gov/hunting/hunt-planner.

A call or visit to your local BLM field office is an essential step when visiting an unfamiliar, BLM-administered location. In addition to supplying useful documents and information on our many multiple-use programs, each BLM office offers recreation passes for purchase and information on camping, fire and use restrictions.

Seasonal and year round public access restrictions do exist on some BLM Wyoming-administered public lands. These restrictions have been established through the BLM’s land use planning process. They serve a variety of purposes, including to help ensure the long-term survival and public enjoyment of Wyoming’s wildlife species; provide for a variety of recreational experiences; and to protect sensitive resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations. Each visitor is responsible for avoiding closed areas when restrictions apply. Georeferenced maps of BLM Wyoming’s seasonal and year round restrictions are available for free download at www.blm.gov/wyoming-public-access. Please note that additional limitations may exist due to temporary factors. Contact the appropriate BLM Field Office or appropriate landowner for current access and use limitations prior to making your trip.

In general, a 14-day occupancy limit within a 28-day period applies across the state for any eligible camping location on BLM-administered land. The 14-day limit may be reached either through several separate visits or through 14 days of continuous occupation during the 28-day period. After the 14th day of occupation, campers must move outside of a 5-mile radius of the previous location. In addition, no person shall leave personal property unattended on public lands for a period of more than 72 hours. Unattended personal property will be counted toward the 14-day camp limit. Check with your local BLM office for special guidelines in your area.

When you're planning your hunting excursion, remember that it's not always possible to retrieve downed game with a vehicle, so bring a non-motorized game cart, pack frame, capable friend or horse to help. Driving off roads and trails to retrieve game within 300 feet of an existing road when no resource damage will occur, including degrading soil, damaging vegetation or archaeological sites, or creating ruts when driving on wet soils, is permissible in some areas. Avoid hunting close to property lines, as animals may cross onto private property before they can be recovered.

Do your part to prevent wildfires by practicing fire safety and checking for fire restrictions in your area. Ensure your fire is “dead out” before going hunting or turning-in for the night. In addition, all OHVs are required to have a Society of Automotive Engineers-approved spark arrestor. Few things can ruin a hunt more than burning a favorite area due to neglect. For a list of active fire restrictions, visit www.blm.gov/wyoming-fire-restrictions.

More important than taking home a game animal is making sure you and your companions get home safely at the end of the day. Make sure to:

· Tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you expect to be back.

· Be prepared for Wyoming’s changing weather while out in the field.

· Exercise the utmost caution with knives while processing your animals and supervise young hunters while they are processing their animals.

· Treat every gun as if it’s loaded.

· Do your best to Tread Lightly and minimize impacts. We encourage adhering to Leave No Trace principles, in order to help keep areas pristine for other visitors.

If you suspect violations of land use regulations, please do not risk escalating the situation by personally contacting the violator. A safer way to resolve the situation is to write down the license plate information if possible and contact appropriate law enforcement. You may also call 1-888-358-2310. The BLM offers a $250 reward for information leading to the conviction of any person damaging your public lands through OHV violations, vandalism or any other criminal activity in the state of Wyoming.

By following these regulations and best practices, you will participate in the shared stewardship that keeps Wyoming a top destination for hunting and fishing. Thank you for participating in this legacy, and to our many partners who help us maintain and enhance recreation access throughout the state.