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Wyoming Wildlife

Aug 2, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

The state-published magazine is under the financial gun, but it is worth preserving

When budget times are tough, hard choices have to be made. One such choice confronts the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Game and Fish has been directed by the Wyoming Legislature to slash expenses significantly. The Legislature simultaneously disallowed a new license fee structure that would have generated additional cash for the agency.

That limits the options. In response, Game and Fish is taking a long, hard look at one of its bedrock institutions: Wyoming Wildlife Magazine.

The department recognized many years ago that it was wise not to rely solely on the support of active hunters and fishermen. Through the magazine, a larger audience of wildlife enthusiasts and admirers who enjoy learning about wildlife, who enjoy seeing pictures of wildlife, and enjoy reading about wildlife -- but don't partake in the activity of hunting it -- was built and cultivated through the magazine.

A popular dollar figure kicked around over the past year or so has been the estimated $250,000 that the Game and Fish Department loses in producing Wyoming Wildlife magazine. The subscription list is pretty consistent, but it hasn't generated enough money to keep up with rising production costs through the years.

Something that distinguishes Wyoming Wildlife from most other magazines is its noted lack of advertising. An obvious suggestion, therefore, is for the magazine to start running ads.

Certainly that is a possibility, but it ought to be done with great care and firm policies on what ads will and won't be acceptable. Ideally, the magazine could generate sufficient revenue through ads from some major institutional sponsors that would help the magazine maintain its relatively pristine appearance and mission without having to run ads for guns, ammunition, duck blinds and bait shops. (Nothing against any of those, mind you -- your local newspaper is always here to help.)

The alternative, apparently, is to discontinue Wyoming Wildlife or to cut back production drastically. That would be a very hard option, because nothing erodes one's audience faster than having that audience forget you are there.

Turning Wyoming Wildlife into an every-other-month publication, or a quarterly magazine, might have that very effect. At best, it would be a risk if subscribers are going to be the long-term revenue stream.

To many people, Wyoming Wildlife magazine is the Game and Fish Department. Those people ought to be cultivated. It's a fair bet that readers will speak up for Wyoming Wildlife, at least for a while.

If push comes to shove, legislators will hear those voices. That could lead to more suggestions on ways to save money without harming a fine and long-standing institution and instrument of public relation not just for Game and Fish, but for all of Wyoming.

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