Wyoming’s boating season is now in full swing and with the busy Fourth of July holiday coming up, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds boaters to take special care to make sure watercraft regulations are being followed to ensure safety on Wyoming’s waters.

According to law enforcement coordinator Aaron Kerr, who oversees the state boating enforcement program, most boating violations occur from not having appropriate safety equipment on board.

Kerr said in 2014, officers documented 597 violations resulting in 219 citations and 378 warnings for various boating infractions. More than 50 percent of violations (324) were for failure to provide proper safety equipment (life jackets, fire extinguishers or throwable flotation devices).

Boaters are reminded that a life jacket is required for every person on board and watercraft 16 feet and over must have a Type 4 throwable device such as buoyant cushion or ring buoy. Also certain boats are required to have fire extinguishers on board. A description of types of boats requiring fire extinguishers is on pages 37-39 of the boating regulations pamphlet.

Kerr said registration/numbering violations and illegal or reckless operation of a watercraft are less common but are things for boat owners to be mindful of. Failing to obey regulatory buoys, overloading watercraft, creating a wake within 100 feet of a drifting vessel, careless or reckless operation, are other unsafe practices. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) violations are still a problem and 13 boat operators were cited for this violation in 2014.

In addition, Kerr said officers are still encountering boats without an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) decal and also out-of-state boats that have not been inspected before entering Wyoming.

Boaters can brush up on safe boating procedures by taking the Game and Fish take-at-home boating safety education course. The course is free and sometimes insurance companies lower their rates for boaters that have completed the course. Each boating regulation pamphlet has a pullout card that can be sent in to receive course materials…or boaters can call 307-777-4600 for information on the course. Some states have mandatory boater safety education and a Wyoming resident would need to comply with the safety education of the state where the boat is being operated.

Boaters with questions on boating laws, registrations, safety equipment, etc., can contact their local game warden or any Game and Fish regional office.

-WGFD-