Have fun, respect wildlife and stay safe enjoying the eclipse
Written by broebling on August 18, 2017
Press Release – The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 is slated to draw thousands of viewers into Wyoming’s outdoors. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be on-site at Game and Fish properties and on waterways to help eclipse-viewers have fun and stay safe.
“Eclipse viewers exploring our state will have much to see in addition to the eclipse from scenic open spaces to wildlife. We ask people to enjoy Wyoming’s wild open spaces and to be aware of the rules so habitat, waters and the wildlife are protected, and so you stay safe,” said Mike Choma, Game and Fish law enforcement supervisor.
For those using watercraft to view the eclipse, Game and Fish reminds you that before a boat can launch in Wyoming, it must have an aquatic invasive species (AIS) decal, unless it is non-motorized, inflatable and under 10 feet in length. AIS decals can be purchase from any license selling agent in Wyoming or from a Game and Fish office. If the boat is coming from outside Wyoming, it must be inspected before launching. Boaters can see a listing of inspection locations on the Game and Fish website.
“We are safeguarding Wyoming’s waters from aquatic invasive species, which can be very damaging. Game and Fish appreciates the boating public’s help keeping Wyoming’s water clean and free of invasive species,” said Beth Bear, Game and Fish’s aquatic invasive species coordinator.
To keep people safe and make sure people have an enjoyable time on the water, Game and Fish will be checking safety equipment on boats. “Before heading to your favorite water, make sure you have a properly-sized U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board,” said Choma. Boats over 16 feet are also required to carry a minimum of one (1) U.S. Coast Guard approved throwable flotation device (ring buoy or float cushion) and an operational fire extinguisher if the boat has closed compartments where gas fumes can build. Life jackets must be worn at all times when riding a personal watercraft or being towed by a watercraft. Kids 12 years of age and under are required to wear a life jacket while the watercraft is underway.
Several of Wyoming’s reservoirs will be good places from which to view the eclipse.
Game and Fish also manages thousands of acres across Wyoming. Some of those can be used for camping and for viewing the eclipse. “Nearly all of our personnel will be out across the entire state, working to protect the habitat and wildlife on those lands, while helping those using the lands to enjoy the eclipse,” said Choma.
Camping on these lands is only permitted in designated areas. There are also fire bans in place on all Game and Fish lands. This means fires, campfires, charcoal grills, coal or wood burning stoves are not allowed. Smoking is also not allowed except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material. Littering of any kind is also not permitted.
Some Game and Fish lands are located in Wyoming’s bear country. It’s imperative individuals camping in these areas remain bear aware and follow bear safety guidelines to keep bears away from camp. Game and Fish has information online about bear safety. At a minimum, Game and Fish advises to:
- Have bear spray available. You can purchase bear spray at sporting goods stores.
- Never store food, garbage or other attractants in your tent. Attractants include anything with an odor: food, chapstick, toothpaste, pet food, cook stoves, gas/propane canisters, garbage, whiskey.
- Store attractants inside a vehicle, hard sided campers, horse trailers, bear canisters, or bear boxes.
- Wipe down eating and cooking area after each use.
- Do not bury garbage; bears will just dig it up and it’s illegal.
- Garbage will need to be packed out with you.
If a bear does enter camp:
- Remain calm and do not panic. Bears generally avoid people and they are probably attracted to odors of food.
- Get your bear spray prepared for use.
- Do not approach the bear.
- Try to scare the bear away by yelling, shouting, banging on pots.
- If the bear does not get a food reward they will usually leave.
- If a bear tries getting into your tent, fight back and use your personal defense.
- Contact Game and Fish immediately at 1-800-442-2767.
Game and Fish will be available to answer questions and to help viewers enjoy the eclipse and stay safe. Individuals can call (307) 777-4600 with questions, and look for our personnel wearing red shirts out in the field.