Jackalope Bill

The late Rep. Dave Edwards sits at his desk in Cheyenne in 2005. Edwards sponsored a bill that year to make the jackalope the official state mythical creature, but it failed because of time limits. Lawmakers in the upcoming session will resubmit the bill in honor of Edwards, who died in 2013.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, has ambitions for an alleged mammal with the body of a jackrabbit and the horns of an antelope.

He’s introduced a bill that would make the world-famous jackalope the state’s mythical creature.

“This will be the fifth time it’s been introduced to the Legislature, the second time I’ve tried,” he said. “The last time, it just ran out of time in the Senate.”

House Bill 66’s co-sponsors are Reps. Richard Cannady, R-Glenrock, and Rita Campbell, R-Shoshoni, whose districts include Douglas and Dubois respectively, both known for jackalope-themed tourism.

Zwonitzer is in the market for some stuffed and mounted jackalopes to bring to the Wyoming Capitol, he said. He will prop them either on his desk on the House floor or in his committee room.

He will be chairman of the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee in the session starting Tuesday.

“Hopefully when we need some stress relief in the first couple weeks, we can tackle it quickly and add it to our list of other state symbols,” he said.

Zwonitzer then rattled off a list of symbols, including the plains cottonwood as the state tree, the Indian paintbrush as the state flower, Western wheatgrass as the state grass, the triceratops as the state dinosaur, the knightia as the state fossil and the bison as the state mammal.

In addition to levity, Zwonitzer is sponsoring the bill as a tribute to former Converse County lawmaker David Edwards, who served in the Legislature from 2001 to 2008. Edwards died in 2013.

Edwards was the first lawmaker to sponsor the bill.

Edwards thought adding the jackalope to the list of official state symbols would be an effective tourism ploy, said Tiffany Edwards Hunt, a Hawaii journalist and his daughter.

She said her dad had a wicked sense of humor and always tried to convince people that jackalopes are real.

“And who knows? Do you have evidence to suggest they are not? The myth is alive today thanks to my father,” she said.

Since most of the lawmakers have heard the bill in the past, Zwonitzer hopes it will fly -- or hop -- through floor and committee discussion.

This year, he introduced the bill earlier than in the past in hopes that the Legislature will get to it early.

Also working in his favor is YoLo. That’s the jackalope for the new Wyoming Lottery Corp., known as WyoLotto.

“l’ll keep bringing it back until it passes,” he said.

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Reach political reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.


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