SUBLETTE COUNTY – A Pinedale native and former newspaper owner filed a civil complaint in Teton County on April 14 against Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Commission.
Rob Shaul, founder of the nonprofit Mountain Pursuit, is asking a 9th District Court judge to overturn two Game and Fish commissioners’ donations of their complimentary antelope, deer or elk hunting licenses to the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, or WYOGA.
A Jackson resident, he filed the complaint in Teton County's 9th District Court Clerk’s Office; it is assigned to Judge Timothy Day, records show. The two commissioners named are Commissioner Ralph Brokaw and Commissioner Gay Lynn Byrd.
WYOGA is ineligible under Wyoming law to receive the licenses, which are meant to go to nonprofit charitable organizations that serve the “general public,” the complaint says.
Complimentary licenses are often donated for fundraisers for different wildlife groups and projects.
Game and Fish regulations require an authorized officer of the nonprofit charitable organization to “certify under penalty of law that the respective organization is a nonprofit charitable organization … which engages in activities providing the general public with benefits designed to aid in educational, moral, physical, conservation or social improvement and which is not established for profit,” it says.
WYOGA is not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization but as a 501(c)(6) “business league … designed to promote the business conditions for the line of business for the members of the organization,” it says, to benefit and advocate “for the WYOGA members, not the general public.”
As an example, WYOGA hired a lobbyist in March to fight against legislation meant to benefit “Wyoming resident hunters by increasing the number of limited quota tags allotted to them … (because of) the potential business and financial impact on hunters and guides,” it says.
On March 24, Mountain Pursuit challenged the commissioners’ giving two complimentary licenses to WYOGA in a letter to the Wyoming Game and Fish License Review Board. On April 5, deputy director John Kennedy replied, saying WYOGA “met all regulatory requirements at time of application.”
Shaul as Mountain Pursuit asks Judge Day to void and remand the donations back to Game and Fish and declare WYOGA is not an eligible charity nonprofit. He also seeks “updated administrative rulemaking on the issue of complimentary licenses.”
On April 14, the Teton County Clerk of Court Office sent a summons to inform Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Commission of the complaint, with 30 days to respond after its service or judgment will be made against them.