CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming is close to making bestiality a crime after the Wyoming Senate passed House Bill 46 unanimously on Thursday. The legislation was also approved unanimously in the House on March 8 and will now move to Governor Mark Gordon’s desk for consideration.
The Senate considered an amendment to the legislation on third reading that would have added additional penalties for someone found guilty of subsequent offenses of bestiality.
Someone convicted of bestiality on a first offense could face prison sentences up to one year and/or fines up to $1,000.
The amendment proposed by Sen. R.J Kost (Big Horn, Park County) would have made a second or subsequent bestiality offense punishable by prison sentence up to five years and/or fines up to $5,000.
However, the amendment was defeated in the Senate.
An incident in Sweetwater County in summer 2020 in which a man was alleged to have trespassed onto private property and engage in sex acts with horses prompted the Wyoming Legislature to look at the state’s crime statutes.
“Wyoming is one of a handful of states that does not have a law outlawing bestiality,” Rep. Clark Stith (Sweetwater County) said on first reading in the House.
Stith said that House Bill 46 would make bestiality a misdemeanor in Wyoming.
“I brought this bill as we had an incident in my county where law enforcement investigated it, proved essentially all of the elements that are in this bill but could not prosecute,” he said.
The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s OFfice said that near the end of June 2020, a deputy took an initial report of suspected criminal trespass from a reporting party who owns horse corrals in the unincorporated Northpark neighborhood near Rock Springs.
The property owner told deputies that they chained and locked the gate in a certain way when leaving their corral at night. When the owner returned to the corral the next day, they reported the gate was chained differently.
“Given the suspicious circumstance, they set up a trail camera to surveil their corral,” SCSO said in a press release following the investigation. “Days later, after reviewing photographs captured on the trail camera, the owners discovered someone entering the corral and apparently engaging in sex acts with their horses.”
Detectives reportedly identified and interviewed the man in the photographs, who SCSO said admitted to trespassing and to initiating sexual activities with two different horses.
“While shocking, this is actually a very difficult case,” explained sheriff’s office spokesperson Jason Mower. “Wyoming is only one of a handful of states across the country without a bestiality statute on the books. Also, to satisfy the elements of a cruelty to animals charge, it’s our understanding that we would need to prove that the suspect’s actions in this case actually injured the animals.”
House Bill 26 would define “sexual act with an animal” as “any act, between a person and an animal involving direct physical contact between the genitals of one and the mouth, anus or genitals of the other. A sexual act with an animal may be proved without evidence of penetration.”
The person would be committing a crime of bestiality if they:
- engage in a sexual act with an animal
- cause, aid or abet another in engaging in a sexual act with an animal
- use any part of the actor’s body or an object to sexually stimulate an animal; or
- visually record a person engaging in a sexual act with an animal
Someone convicted of bestiality could face prison sentences up to one year and/or fines up to $1,000.
The legislation would “not apply to or prohibit normal, ordinary or accepted practices involved in animal husbandry, artificial insemination or veterinary medicine.”
If passed into law, the legislation would become effective on July 1, 2021.