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Bill: Stranded people would pay for rescue

Bill: Stranded people would pay for rescue

Nov 27, 2012 - The Associated Press

JACKSON -- A state lawmaker from Jackson wants authorities to have the right to bill back-country recreationists who need to be rescued.

State Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, is pursuing a bill to give sheriff's departments discretion to issue bills to people suspected of putting themselves in danger while hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and mountain climbing.

The bill was inspired by a rescue of snowmobilers from Togwotee Pass last winter that cost Teton County $14,000.

The Wyoming Search and Rescue Council reimburses counties for such expenses and asked Gingery to get the snowmobilers to cover some of the cost.

Gingery, the county's chief deputy attorney, said the snowmobilers' lawyer questioned whether the county had that authority.

The council gets its money from donations as well as fees from hunting and fishing licenses and snowmobile registrations.

Budgeting for rescue operations is an inexact process, and one or two large rescue operations can exhaust available funding.

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