A bill recently was introduced into the Wyoming legislature that seeks to ban the practice of selling GPS and location data of specific animals. Websites have sprung up offering to sell the location of “Pre-scouted”trophy animals to the highest bidder. People are willing to pay big money to know the location of a 380 inch elk or a 200 inch mule deer and this bill seeks to ban that practice.
Buzz Hettick, chairman of the Wyoming chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, has seen information on big game animals, including GPS location data, pictures and suggestions on where to camp and how to kill the animal, sell for $2,500. The transaction eliminates the hunting part and makes it all about killing, Hettick said.
“The hardest part of hunting these animals, a lot of the time, is just being able to find them,” he said.
A bill similar to this year’s proposed law was introduced last session, said Rep. Jim Allen (R-Lander), chairman of the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Committee, which sponsored this year’s bill.
Last year’s bill passed the House, but stalled in the Senate when someone asked if he’d be in violation of the law if a guide told him where to find a buck and then he bought the guide a cup of coffee, Allen said.
The bill this year also explicitly exempts outfitters from the ban. Guides are licensed and have to follow specific rules, Allen said. Plus, they don’t sell information on a specific animal, they sell the entire hunting experience, he said. The wording of the bill exempted guides to make sure they weren’t inadvertently impacted, Allen said.
Not only are guides are exempt but so are land owners. They are able to market access to specific animals on their land and sell access to those animals. Personally, I have no problem with them doing this, but it seems like if it is illegal for some it should be illegal for everyone.
I am still torn on how I feel about this. Just because you sell the data does not mean the animal is still going to be there. It is not like it is a high fence hunt where the animal stays put. But it still does not seem right to just be able to buy scouting information.
What is everyone’s thoughts on this?