Each year the Wyoming Game and Fish Department must spend an estimated $15,000 to repair, replace and remove damaged signs and infrastructure to vandalism from Game and Fish properties statewide. Already this year, vandalism crimes are diverting resources away from access improvement projects in order to replace what has been destroyed.
Vandalism commonly occurs on informational signs on Game and Fish property and public access areas. Signs are shot up and often rendered completely illegible.
â€œNot only is this frustrating for the sportsperson trying to read the important sign information, but they end up paying for this damage. Game and Fish is forced to use sportsperson dollars to repair vandalism, and this is a completely unnecessary cost to the public,â€ said Ray Bredehoft, Chief of the Game and Fish Habitat and Access Branch.
In some areas, signs are replaced more than once a year due to vandalism damage. Recently an informational sign at the Willwood Public Access Area south of Powell was replaced because of vandalism–costing $600.
â€œWe installed the new sign only four months ago, replacing an old sign that had also been shot before that,â€ said Cody Region Habitat and Access Supervisor Brad Sorensen. â€œThe sign had been shot at close range six times with a shotgun.â€
Sorensen said that vandalism such as this is far too commonplace on Game and Fish wildlife habitat management areas and public access areas.
Destroying signage is not the only type of vandalism that is costly to the public. Dayton Game Warden Dustin Shorma recently came across spray paint vandalism on the scenic rocks at the Tongue River Canyon Wildlife Habitat Management Area west of Dayton.
â€œThis is a very popular spot for folks to take pictures of the Needle. But, now this natural feature Â includes graffiti. This is a disappointing example of how a few folks abuse land set aside for wildlife habitat, and it has a large impact on everyone,â€ said Shorma.
Littering is another form of vandalism that is costly to Game and Fish, sportspeople and natural resources. Camps are often completely abandoned, along with numerous bags of garbage and other trash scattered about and in the firepit, on wildlife habitat management areas. Game and Fish reminds all users of Game and Fish property and access areas to respect the facilities, infrastructure, land and the wildlife.
â€œEthical sportsmen and women know the key to preserving wildlife and these natural spaces is to practice leave no trace principles. Do not vandalize and pack out all garbage or find a proper Â Â place to dispose of trash,â€ said Bredehoft.
Please help Game and Fish and your fellow sportspersons stop these crimes. To report vandalism or misuse of an access area or wildlife Â habitat management area, call your local game warden, Â local law enforcement or the Stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP.
(Wyoming Game and Fish (307) 777-4600)